‘The Theatricality of the Emulsion!’

Queerness, Tactility, and Abstraction in the Hand-Processed Films of Roger Jacoby

in Screen Bodies
Benjamin Ogrodnik Researcher, University of Pittsburgh, USA

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This article reexamines the career of Roger Jacoby (1945–1985), an abstract painter and gay liberation activist who became renowned for processing film in his darkened bathtub and for films that featured his partner, Ondine, the Andy Warhol Superstar. Through a consideration of film shorts made in the 1970s and 1980s, the article argues that Jacoby's principal innovation was the exploration of hand-processing, which resulted in films that resembled abstract expressionist paintings in motion. Additionally, it considers hand-processing as an overlooked, albeit powerful, vehicle for expressing nonnormative sexuality in American avant-garde film. It situates Jacoby alongside gay filmmakers Kenneth Anger, Gregory Markopoulos, and Jack Smith, and considers how hand-processed media can generate a “corporealized” spectator and disrupt patterns of filmic illusionism and heterosexist protocols of sexual/gender representation.

Contributor Notes

Benjamin Ogrodnik recently earned his PhD in the history of art and film studies. His research lies at the intersection of film and the visual arts, and his dissertation examines the individuals and institutions that transformed Pittsburgh into a global center of avant-garde art and filmmaking in the 1970s and 1980s. He is especially interested in examining the “decay aesthetics” that emerged around avant-garde and independent film in these decades, as in the work of Pittsburgh-based artists Roger Jacoby, Tony Buba, Sharon Green, and Peggy Ahwesh.

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Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

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