Artist’s Choice: Ken Jacobs
Dec 27, 2013

A projection of a little girl on a swing in silhouette.

Ken Jacobs, “Slow is Beauty”—Rodin, Idea Warehouse, November 1974. Courtesy the artist. Photograph by J. F. Brown

Artist’s Choice Workshops bring contemporary artists and families together to share their ideas and opinions and create artwork inspired by conversations and activities in the Museum’s galleries. On Saturday, December 7, families had the pleasure of meeting filmmaker Ken Jacobs, whose work is on view in the exhibition Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980. Jacobs has explored the relationship between the cinema screen and the human eye throughout his career. He is interested in the beauty of mundane tasks and everyday actions. In his films, Jacobs experiments with ambient sound and plays with light.

Children wearing 3D glasses attempt to interact with art on a wall.

Families look at anaglyphs with 3-D glasses, December 2013. Photograph by Jake Naughton

In this workshop, Jacobs presented his 3-D shadow-play video installation, “Slow is Beauty”Rodin (1974) to the families in the galleries, taking them on a sensory journey of the third dimension. Showing stereoscopes, 3-D comic books from the 1950s, old two-lens cameras, and other optical objects, Jacobs helped families experience the process of seeing in depth and engage with the history of 3-D technology. Kids and adults moved around the room looking at different red and blue/green anaglyphs and the forms that leaped at them, reaching out to grasp the shapes that really seemed to exist in space.

Jacobs demonstrated that not only do we see in 3-D, but we also hear in more than one dimension. Family programs staff created an immersive sound environment around the families with bells and a thunder machine. Everyone closed their eyes and felt the noise surround them in space.

Throughout the workshop there were many ooohs and aahs from the participants as Jacobs showed his magical props and performed for the audience. The highlight was at the end of the program when the artist’s wife, Flo Jacobs, performed a shadow play, blowing bubbles behind a screen as the families watched with 3-D polarized glasses. Families cheered as the images of 3-D bubbles popped right in front of their faces.

Jacobs’s work is on view through February 9, 2014 in Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980.

Check out our past Artist’s Choice Workshops or learn more about upcoming programs.

Jamie Rosenfeld, Education Assistant