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Soul City, 1977-79 from 98 Bowery on Vimeo.
M. Henry Jones is another Gallery 98 favorite featured in Anthony Haden-Guest’s excellent article “Innovative provocations: Meet the new art-world rebels.” The article touts three artists—Colette, Neke Carson and Jones—who since the 1970s have stubbornly pursued their own creative interests apart from the “mainstream” art establishment. Today their work seems like a breath of fresh air in an art world more interested in cookie-cutter product than idiosyncratic creation.
Jones’ genius is that he is a tech artist whose temperament belongs to the Jurassic age before digital media. One is reminded of Peter Galassi’s demonstration, in the groundbreaking 1981 exhibition “Before Photography” at the Museum of Modern Art, of how painters’ ambitions led the way to the invention of photography.
We’ll let Anthony Haden-Guest explain Jones’ animated film project “Soul City”:
Soul City is one of those rarities, an artwork that also occupies a special place in the history of technological change—in this case because the urge to create preceded the technology that would make the creation a whole lot easier.
Jones constructed his two-and-a-half-minute photo-animation of a performance by the rock group Fleshtones, enhanced with stroboscopic effects before the widespread use of computers and digitisation, and a full decade before Photoshop. His special effects were created solely through the most arduous analogue techniques.
It took nearly two years but there was an unexpected bonus: 1,700 individually printed photographs, each hand-cut with an X-Acto knife and then hand-coloured. This was the raw material for the film, reshot frame by frame with changing backgrounds.
Check out the online exhibition of M. Henry Jones’ “Soul City” photo cut-outs at Gallery 98.