City

1989
New York Day and Night: A Journey through Light and Darkness

This is not a sight-seeing film, but a poetic journey through light and darkness reflected on the city of New York, where I often found empty spaces and times like Ma in Japanese.  You do not often see the people walking on the streets or in the buildings, but you may feel the air and the light coming and going.  It's not a deserted city, but a city full of energy that is there even without the people.  You see the wind is blowing as the bubbles are floating over Wall Street, then up, up to the sky.  The Sun sets under the Washington Bridge, where all the cars are runnin

2005
New York, New York

A montage of architecture and cabaret, juxtaposing a second hand view of New York as refracted through this artist's eyes.

This title is also available on Half-Lies: The Videoworks of Ximena Cuevas.

2009
Night Scene New York

Chance observations of New York's Chinatown, commissioned by the Museum of Chinese in the Americas. 

"A sleepwalker's circumnavigation of one of the less homogenized parts of the city."

--Jem Cohen

2002
No Damage

No Damage is a composition made out of fragments from over 80 different feature and documentary films that show the architecture of New York City--its architectural presence as captured on film over eight decades. Lifted out of their original context and juxtaposed in groups, these scenes reveal their emotional implications: grandeur, glamour, the wake of modernism, post-modernism and, most recently, post 9/11 sentimentalism. A number of particular clips that resonate such emotions enter into a non-verbal discourse on age, status, functionality and aesthetics.

2002
Nocturne

Nocturne is a 5-minute film shot entirely at night in deserted streets of London. The film attempts to find images of the city that reveal the presence of the past, or the presence of the dead, hinting at a concealed history. The deserted streets around the east end of London and Docklands reflect an echoic city filled with shadows. Nocturne is composed of long static viewpoints, each shot slowly unfolding in time as though by looking long enough the city's secrets will be revealed.

2006
NYC Weights and Measures

My film is a simple gathering of New York City street footage.  It was shot with a spring-wound 16mm Bolex on, above, and below the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn and includes footage of the ticker tape parade for astronaut John Glenn.

2007
O'Malley's Head #2

In 1998 I made a sculpture of a decapitated head. I featured it in a photo and video. I thought of the head as a character whose adventures would be documented. The name O’Malley was inspired by Chicago’s Irish heritage (I was living in Chicago then). O’Malley’s Head Part 1 was a photo of the head placed on top of the garbage cans in the alley behind my apartment building. I lived right by an exit ramp from the Kennedy Expressway, one of the last before you reached downtown from O’Hare Airport. Sometimes people would exit there and dump things.

2006
O.U.T. Operation Urban Terrain

O.U.T. is a work documenting the emergence of computer games which train players to fight in cities among civilians, (Military Operations in Urban Terrain). O.U.T. contains sampled footage and machinima (stories told with video games) from five military simulation games. Following is a documentation of the performance, (Operation Urban Terrain), an urban wireless intervention by Anne-Marie Schleiner and an international cast of game expert and art activist collaborators.

1997
ocularis

This video highlights several narratives concerning video surveillance—not to reiterate the conventional privacy argument but rather to engage the desire to watch surveillance materials and society’s insatiable voyeurism. A variety of subjects recount their interactions with surveillance—getting caught in the act of stealing or watching pornography, being discouraged from making an illegal ATM withdrawal—and question technological determinism, asking whether we choose to develop technology or technology shapes our choices.

2016
ON ESSEX ROAD

A watchful dog in a confusion of reflected chairs begins and ends Cohen’s finely tuned observational portrait of London’s Essex Street, and the inhabitants who work the shops and throng the pavement there. People hurrying, pausing, waiting or simply standing, intermingled with worn statues of historic peerage in the slanted light of late afternoon. A man holds a copy of The Law of Privacy and the Media as though testing its resilience against the quiet onslaught of an average work day.

2008
One Bright Day

While out shooting for a different project altogether, I encountered two sleeping men on a Manhattan street. A short time later, I was standing in front of Pennsylvania Train Station with the camera on a tripod, when one of the men suddenly reappeared. He stepped in front of my camera and began to speak, about his path in the U.S. military, from Panama to Afghanistan to Iraq, about his life. I decided to limit the piece to what I shot in that area in those few hours, with one key addition: the text from a classic children's rhyme.

–Jem Cohen

2010
Opus Luminis et Hominis, Jem Cohen

A commissioned portait of Pamplona, a small city in the North of Spain, shot and edited there in under 2 weeks. The film is a humble set of observations of place, people, atmospheres, and local rituals. (It is also a tribute to the art of film projection). As there is a large presence in the town of the conservative religious order, Opus Dei, which translates to 'Work of God,' I chose to name my film, Works of Light and Man.

-- Jem Cohen

1997
Persistence

"Persistence was shot in 1991-92 in Berlin, and edited with films by U.S. Signal Corps cameramen in 1945-46, obtained from Department of Defense archives. Interspersed through these materials are filmic quotations from Rossellini's Germany Year Zero (1946). A meditation on the time just after a great historical event, about what is common to moments such as these—the continuous and discontinuous threads of history—and our attachment to cinematic modes of observation that, by necessity, shape our view of events.

1983
Plastic Rap with Frieda

In this early Tom Rubnitz, Barbara Lipp and Tom Koken collaboration, "Frieda" performs her rap song with a bevy of dolls as back-up singers and dancers. Features rock-bottom production values and song lyrics by Barbara Lipp and Tom Koken.

2007
Plot Point

The crowded streets of New York City turn into fictive, cinematographic scenery. Provost is playing with our collective memory, its cinematic codes and narrative languages - questioning the boundaries between a staged, suggested reality and authentic fiction. Although filmed with a hidden camera, Plot Point presents a highly dramatic construction with overly sophisticated images and a subtle but tangible urge in the soundtrack.