Ken Burns Give You Something

2001 | 00:03:30 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | DV video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Consumer culture, Music, Remake

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In January 2001, the KEN BURNS’ JAZZ promotional blizzard hit New York City. Billboards, banners on buses, elaborate retail displays in book and record stores, feature coverage in every major print, radio and TV outlet, chatter around the water cooler at the office — total saturation. I’d already been indoctrinated against Burns by University of Iowa film studies professors, and early reviews suggested that JAZZ basically dismissed post-60s avant-garde acts like AACM and Cecil Taylor, so I had no interest in watching the show, and I resented its invasion of all corners of my world. The final straw for me was an uninvited email from Amazon.com urging me to purchase official JAZZ merchandise and to watch a series of Burns interview clips. My first instinct was to delete the email. Instead, I impulsively clicked the link to the clips, and soon enough I was shooting excerpts of them off of the computer screen with my Mini-DV camcorder. While editing the clips, I told myself I was making some kind of crazy 21st Century video jazz — Burns, Wynton Marsalis, and the rest of the traditionalists be damned. By the time I finished the edit, the rage and resentment were gone (I’d even come to feel a strange fondness for Burns and his self-promoting incantations), and I moved on with my life.

"Redeems (?) the whitest man in America, Ken Burns, by making him scat, riff and syncopate more than all the hours of his multi-PBS JAZZ series ever attempted. The void of the PBS drone is regenerated in a cut and slice Shiva dance of creation."

— Kyle Henry, Cinematexas, September 2002

“Subverts the famed documentarian's notoriously finicky filmmaking with a jittery cut-and-paste style worthy of William Burroughs.”

Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle, September 2002

This video is also avaliable on Kent Lambert Videoworks: Volume 1

Exhibitions + Festivals

Dialogue With Pop, Spaceworks Gallery, NYC, April-May 2004

Film at the Prince, Prince Music Theater, Philadelphia, November 2003

Brooklyn Underground Film Festival, October 2003

Splice Festival, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, May 2003

The Year in Avant-Garde, Ed Halter, Village Voice, December 2002

Cinematexas Festival, Austin, September 2002

New York Video Festival, July 2002

Maryland Film Festival, Baltimore, May 2002

New York Underground Film Festival, March 2002

Other Cinema, San Francisco, December 2001

Chicago Underground Film Festival, August 2001

San Francisco Independent Film Festival: Digital Underground program, July 2001

Thaw Festival, Iowa City—Jury prize (awarded by Animal Charm), April 2001