Optical Displacements: Films by Ken Jacobs and Pat O’Neill

Avant-garde filmmakers usually work in 8- or 16-millimeter, but Ken Jacobs and Pat O’Neill use the greater detail of 35-millimeter to spectacular effect, producing an extraordinary visual poetry that explores the nature of seeing. In parts of Georgetown Loop (1997) and Disorient Express (1997), Jacobs takes footage shot from a moving train and prints it twice, running the images side by side with one frame upside-down; the doubling of the train’s movement produces a kaleidoscopic effect in which the image seems to grow, like an ever-renewing vision, out of the edge where the frames meet. O’Neill’s Trouble in the Image: Works on Film 1978-1995 (1996) collects his diverse explorations in optical printing–a process of frame-by-frame rephotography that allows him to combine and manipulate images. A mountain landscape appears through the window of a tenement, fragments of images fill human silhouettes–yet most of O’Neill’s effects are too complex to describe, a sure sign that he’s producing a cinema beyond translation. The contradictions in each image are difficult to resolve, pointing out the paradoxes of cinema and of perception itself. Presented by Chicago Filmmakers. Cinema Borealis, 1550 N. Milwaukee, fourth floor, Friday, February 12, 8:00, 773-384-5533. –Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Trouble in the Image: Works on Film 1978-1995.