AIRY NOTHINGS would be another way of describing the illusion of moving through and about places that aren't there and never were. I can understand not wanting to throw away hard-earned money on such frivolity, like riding a cloud through the heavens solely to gawk in wonder. The Nervous Magic Lantern opens before us an unsuspected cinema, vistas of atmosphere inviting viewer projection. While only recently acquiring the Nervous tag it is a technique that could have been employed before the advent of film. (And perhaps was but there were no buyers among the crowd demanding the invention of movies and of moviestars, of needing real bad to go to the movies, to forget themselves at the movies.) As soon as it was possible for light to be focused through a lens or even passed through a small opening into a darkened space to reflect against a flat surface, and a shutter could be made to spin, it was at hand. That simple. The phenomena had to've shown itself during the time of optical toys and experiment but got pushed aside, was skillfully and correctly shunned as extraneous to the inventing of cinema mimesis. Its time was yet to come. Perhaps recognition of its potential required a mind primed by Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, up for mind-play on the playground of suggestion, in on the trick of it as trick and still drinking up pleasure. Up for engaging with deception of another order than the movies or advertising or religion or as practiced by great statesmen; modernist deception, in the way the brushstrokes of Franz Hals state themselves as such just as they also deliver vivid evidence of others here before us. KJ plus Disorient Express (1995) 35mm, b&w, silent, 30 min. "This is not formalist cinema; order interests me only to the extent that it can provide experience. Watch the flat screen give way to some kind of 3-D thrust, look for impossible depth inversions, for jeweled splendor, for CATscans of the brain. I'm banking on this film reviving a yen for expanded consciousness." -K.J.

Ken Jacobs