A Primer in Sky Socialism
“Each new year Flo and I join the young and many-languaged crowd walking to the top of Brooklyn Bridge, ostensibly for the fireworks. The crowd, the bridge, comprise the spectacle. The bridge has been particularly dear to us since the '60s, when we learned the story of the Roeblings, father, son and daughter-in-law. The bridge embodies their wishes for America, their blessing, nothing less. I filmed (on 8mm) The Sky Socialist back then and this is a follow-up.” —Ken Jacobs
Inspired by the story of the Roebling family, A Primer in Sky Socialism is a joyful, digital 3D mediation on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Returning again to the subject of his 1964 film The Sky Socialist, to Jacobs “The bridge embodies the Roeblings’ wishes for America, their blessing, nothing less.” Washington Roebling (1837-1926) graduated from RPI in 1857 and became chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge following his father's death in 1869. Developing new building techniques, he designed the pneumatic caissons that became the foundations for the two towers where a construction accident forced him off-site due to decompression sickness. Remaining the chief engineer, he advised from afar, while his wife Emily Warren Roebling continued to manage the bridge's complex construction.
Premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in May 2013, A Primer in Sky Socialism continues avant-garde film pioneer Ken Jacobs’ exploration into 3D filmmaking, renewing his fascination with the histories and technologies of the moving image, a theme that has preoccupied his work for over 50 years. Shot on the Brooklyn Bridge with a view of the fireworks, this long-form film privileges the experiential over narrative drive. Using quick edits and effects to focus on the expressive and aesthetic experience of cinematic form, Jacobs uses digital 3D processing to delve into the human perception of depth in a dizzyingly brightly colored nighttime perspective of a bustling New York City.