The Roses

2011, 4:37, color, sound

The Roses is a meditation on art, aging, and the nature of listening, as well a conversation between generations and between artists. The anaglyph 3-D video is based on a section in Henry Hills' Emma's Dilemma (1997-2012), a curious documentary in which the twelve-year-old daughter of poet Charles Bernstein conducts interviews with artists, filmmakers, and poets, including Jackson Mac Low, Carolee Schneemann, Cheryl Donegan, and Ken Jacobs. As Antonia Pocock writes, "The collision of generations is matched by abrupt shifts between documentary and structuralist modes of filmmaking. Passages of hand-held footage, which portray Emma and her interviewees with seeming directness and immediacy, are interrupted by passages where editing processes are foregrounded. The image periodically breaks down into a mosaic of digital pixels."

Jacobs' The Roses takes "Nervous Ken," the chapter of Hills' film in which Emma interviews Jacobs about his work, finances, and artistic goals, as a point of departure or invitation to conversation, staging an "imitation" of the scene in his studio. Rather than conducting an interview, he films his family and friends (Will, Sarah, Aida, Maria, and Rose, as they are identified in the opening title) while a young girl and a toddler explore Jacobs' work space and play with his projectors. Using a stroboscopic editing effect in which sounds and short segments are briefly looped and then permitted to continue, the children's incomprehensible babble becomes a kind of abstracted musical soundtrack, its stuttering visual and sonic rhythms reflecting the theme of inter-generational communication, with both its slippages and its moments of understanding, that Hills is concerned with in Emma's Dilemma.

Video: Ken Jacobs, Starring: Will, Sarah, Aida, Marla, Rose.