Ken Jacobs Book of Eternalisms

March 17 - April 29, 2023

Press Release


In celebration of the artist's 90th birthday, Corbett vs. Dempsey excitedly presents a bewildering suite of new works by moving image pioneer Ken Jacobs. A native New Yorker, Jacobs began his artistic career as a painting student of Hans Hofmann in the 1950s, however he quickly concentrated on a more flexible canvas – cinema. A foremost figure in the underground film movement of the 1960s, Jacobs’ decades of restless output include more than forty motion pictures and dozens of expanded cinema performances made with both his self-invented double 16mm “Nervous System” projection apparatus and his nearly indescribable, almost intergalactic “Nervous Magic Lantern.” Since embracing video in 1999, Jacobs has produced well over 150 space-, time-, and perception-bending pieces that transpose his formal and 3D explorations into the digital dimension.

The six-part Book of Eternalisms series from 2022 is composed of the GIF-like digital works that Jacobs has been producing in recent years. Hovering somewhere between street photography and abstract expressionism, these strobing images present once static shots of a Manhattan in perpetual 3D motion. Jacobs writes that: “The word eternalism is meant to suggest a movement in time and deep space -seen without special screens or glasses- that stays, doesn't repeat, but keeps happening and can be seen in illusionary depth by both eyes or a single eye. Decades ago my wife Flo and I got into live projection, which is when we first found the eternalism. There was and is no way to seek it out, or even to imagine it. The eternalism befell us while we were performing with two side by side stop-motion 16 mm projectors. We were investigating close frames on two simultaneously projected prints of the same film, using a spinning shutter upfront to alternate and visually meld the images. The resulting illusion of 3D depth could be recorded and played back, but only after switching to video and digital did the precise construction of eternalisms become possible. The momentary blackness created by the spinning shutter in our film performances is now replaced by an interval of opposite colors on the color wheel. Instead of projecting adjacent film-frames, my videos are based on the left and right frames of a twin-lens stereo still-camera. I hire young people, Antoine Catala and Viktor Timofeev, artists in their own right, to actually create eternalisms on the computer as I look on and make requests. They do the formerly impossible! combining perspectives. Moments! that do not repeat as much as prolong, eternalisms, a name to trip over."

(Andrew Lampert)

This program of Ken Jacobs works has been curated by Andrew Lampert for CvsD

This film program contains flashing images which may not be suitable for individuals with photosensitive epilepsy.