We are positively giddy to be co-presenting this evening at Cinefamily that dublab has put together to celebrate the work of Henry Jacobs (pictured above). Arthur readers with fine memories will recall that Henry was lovingly profiled in Arthur No. 26 (August 2007) by Joel Rose (read “One Man Goofing” ) and saluted by filmmaker/artist Mike Mills in the same issue (“Red Goo, Paper Cut-Outs and Conscious Digressions: Henry Jacobs’ handmade absurdism”). Two episodes of Jacobs’ early ’70s PBS show “The Fine Art of Goofing Off” (memorably described as “Sesame Street for adults”) were screened on the main stage between music bands at ArthurFest in September, 2005. But enough about the past. Here are the details for this Tuesday’s event…
TUESDAY, December 14
dublab, Arthur and Cinefamily present
THE FINE ART OF GOOFING OFF AND OTHER WIDE WEIRDNESS OF HENRY JACOBS
All Ages / 8pm / $12
611 N Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, 90036
What happens late at night when the television fuzz melts together with your subconscious mind? They become one entity and blossom into bright bursts. The TV channels the waves of your id and every unknown notion your cerebrum has hidden away in dusty recesses becomes a glowing explosion of sight and sound. Does this ultimate, brain-tickling television program sound too good to be true? In this day and age of narrow focused broadcast beams it is, but open your eyes wide because in 1972 a few episodes of this magic was made real. Sound artist Henry Jacobs got together with producer Chris Koch and visual artist Bob McClay to create a series of half-hour television programs for San Francisco public television station KQED. This show titled “The Fine Art of Goofing Off” is an ultimate revelation. It is like Sesame Street’s psychedelic, philosophical cousin who lives on the top floor of a tenement on the weird side of the road. It’s a wild, tangential ride through richly layered imagery and hypnotic, non-matching sources. One familiar voice heard on the program is that of Zen philosopher Alan Watts. This is no strange coincidence as Henry Jacobs was as tight with Watts as tight can be. Jacobs is somewhat the voice behind the voice behind the voice behind the voice of Zen. As the co-founder and manager of the Alan Watts archive he has continued spreading his pal’s Eastern Philosophy to the world.
Jacobs is the living, breathing, acting, thinking, laughing, swimming expression of life lived with a mind wide open. This vibe made him fast friends with Alan Ginsberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ken Nordine, Lenny Bruce, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and many other luminous minds in motion. In the company of stellar collaborators Henry’s creative output has influenced modern music with its inventive twists. He is often considered the originator of modern surround sound due to his “Vortex: Experiments in Sound and Light” which came to life at the San Francisco’s Morrison Planetarium and at the 1958 World Expo in Brussels. He also hosted the very first ethnographic radio show on American radio and released an album “Radio Programme No 1 Audio Collage: Henry Jacobs’ Music and Folklore” on the legendary Folkways Records in 1955. He even provided improvised soundtrack material and background dialogue for George Lucas’ film “THX 1138″ and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1964 for his work on the short film “Breaking the Habit.”
Wow, we could go on and on and on but the point is, you should not miss this screening. We’ll be showing Henry’s favorite moments from “The Fine Art of Goofing Off”, some amazing short films and excerpts from “THX 1138.” We’ll also share audio snippets from Vortex and other moments from “the Wide Weird World of Henry Jacobs.” We’ll even have Henry on the line for a live remote Q&A from his wild outpost on the Northern California Coast. Oh yeah, there will be a live tape loop performance and probably some left-handed ping pong action happening as well.
Henry Jacobs: official website
Henry Jacobs: Important Records
Henry Jacobs: Locust Music