Krypton is Doomed

2005, 34 min, color, sound

WARNING: This work contains throbbing light. Should not be viewed by individuals with epilepsy or seizure disorders.

This work is derived from one of Jacobs' Nervous Magic Lantern performances, which are created with a hand-manipulated projector and use neither film nor video. Highly stroboscopic and hallucinatory, these kinetic performances result in otherworldly spaces and plays of near-abstraction and suggestive imagery. In Krypton is Doomed, the audio accompaniment to the shifting visuals is an installment of a Superman radio play — the first ever broadcast, in 1940. This work highlights Jacobs' relentless experimentation with the very fabric of projected light.

Writes Jacobs: "In his 5th floor walk-up on NY's pre-fashionable Lower East Side, Jack Smith was determined to complete the beautification of his kitchen cabinet. AIDS was pressing. His friends pitched in, accepting slave status. Jack demanded this and Jack demanded that but because he wanted it perfect (as he had wanted his films to be perfect), and because perfection proved elusive, the remodeling finally had to be abandoned. Each friend going her or his own sad way.

We are living under the imminent threat of GODS. The Republican Party ploy of allying with the religious right for votes proved shortsighted (grasping individuals tend to be shortsighted) and our religious crazies are now frustrated, concerned they might be cheated of prophetic fulfillment. You've got to hand it to those who resist, for the sake of the grass and the animals and the children, and for the preservation of the occasional work of art among the Faberge egg; who knows but that they will succeed against all odds and swerve their respective societies in time away from sure doom. We like to think so and it's easy to, after a lot of movies and the fact that all the living are beneficiaries of the ones who made it through, all those Papas and especially Mamas that did succeed in sending forward their young.

In the late 1930's two Jewish teenagers came up with the story of a couple that sent their infant child on a lone trip of escape through space from an exploding planet. We all know the story: the boy would survive on Earth but would have to keep his identity secret. Were Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel dreaming out loud? Was Krypton actually the Old World heading into WW 2 and was the child—with his secret identity— escaping the fate of the Jews of Europe? (Put aside for a moment your stress regarding Israel, intended as a refuge from genocide.) The Jews then, all of us now.

Jack's friends failed to convince him to make a will. 'Why bother?,' he asked. 'To protect your work in the future.' 'The future?,' Jack replied. 'The future will be worse.'"

Computer Assistance: Nisi Jacobs. Original radio broadcast of Superman drama, 1940.


WARNING: This work contains throbbing light. Should not be viewed by individuals with epilepsy or seizure disorders.