Ken Jacobs “Up the Illusion” opening reception, mini interview and the TRUE name of the “wiggle gif” format revealed.. (edit 5/2/23)

EDIT: This post has been edited and updated with a new snapshot gallery from P-SSC Peter Marsilio as well as new video embeds from the new PSSCDDD backup video account. 5/2/23

The PARALLAX-SHIFT Stereo Club had a little meetup at the opening reception of a Ken Jacobs retrospective titled “Up the Illusion”, a street level, public art space exhibition located at Broadway Windows, on the corner of 10th st & Broadway in Manhattan on Wednesday April 19th.

Ken Jacobs wikipedia entry.

The exhibition, curated by Adam Lambert, will be up for the next 7 months, if you happen to be in NYC and it is definitely worth a trip to pass by, the image below is a window map showing the titles of each piece in their respective windows.

The reception was a super casual street party and it was a blast. Attendees and well wishers took up the whole corner, clamoring about on the sidewalk and passers by were stopping to check out the art and became part of the scene from about 6pm- after dusk.

I personally know Ken Jacobs’ old 16mm movie street style documentary work of NYC’s lower east side, as well as his stereoscopic films. I attended a showing at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY, about 8 years ago with a former stereo club and from further research online. He is a famed multidisciplinary artist with a lifetime of notable and acclaimed work,  which earned him the honor of having his work publicly displayed in this coveted corner for creative communications of all kinds.

Ken’s work is displayed on a smattering of digital displays and CRT’s in this accessible street level artspace and even included a collection of drawings used in some of his animated videos.

We had the opportunity to interview Ken during this block party affair. He didn’t wasn’t too keen on the idea of a video interview and I didn’t want to push it and ask if an audio recording would be ok, but he was absolutely happy to answer our questions and is an extremely charming and personable man. We definitely made friends this evening, it was a great honor to have the chance to speak with him so casually.

I of course asked him what inspired him to pursue stereo communication in the first place- and he recanted an excellent story about how he got into 3D film making. He told us about his university days with a painting professor named Hans Hoffman who was calling for traditional painterly techniques for creating the illusion of depth. Many of those techniques include what is already known to be the basic monocular cues for representing depth via monocular cues, such as colors fading and getting fuzzier and lighter into the distance, 2 & 3 point perspective, occlusion, etc… Ken was exploring the medium of film at the time and discovered it was an absolutely effective medium to literally impress depth through animation and temporal motion. He proposed this idea to his professor, who apparently was a devout traditionalist and rejected it, demanding him to confirm to his teaching curriculum.

Ken said “fuck that” and went and did it anyway.

Ken developed this animated film style, into the format that is currently experiencing a cultural renessaince- what would be referred to as animated wiggle gifs, or 3D animated gifs.

I BELIEVE KEN JACOBS TO BE THE INVENTOR OF THE WIGGLE GIF FORMAT- or he is at the very least, the earliest known practitioner of this format that I am aware of.

Ken is celebrating his 90th birthday. Unless someone can produce a 100 year old person that told their college professor to fuck off and went on to invent a wiggle gif, then that’s the story IM PERSONALLY going to keep surviving down.

I of course am very familiar with this format and know that even though I’ve been referring to it as the “wiggle gif”, it in fact goes by many, many names. It’s recent rise in popularity and it’s obscure and unknown origin has opened up the opportunity for hundreds of modern practitioners and product marketers to claim it by their own given names, which of course is very confusing and has no connection to it’s history or to the cultural heritage surrounding 3D formats.

The second question I asked Ken, was what is the name HE dubbed this repeated, monocular 3D animation style, now so popularly known as a wiggle gif.

His response… “ETERNALISM”

As the earliest known practitioner of this format, I will have to start carrying down this name throughout all my attempts to communicate it, so it can become known throughout the historic process and 3D cultural heritage community- as well as to its countless modern practitioners- to whom, most likely, it’s origin is a mystery.


Of course P-SSC mentor, Gerald Marks was in attendance. There is rarely a 3D related event in NYC that he isn’t at. Gerald Marks gets around. Gerry & Ken Jacobs go waaaaaaaay back. They are both boys born and bred in NYC. Both had lifelong careers as stereographers and they both taught at Copper Union, so they have a lot of stories and memories they share together and it was a treat to hear them catch up and shoot the breeze.

One of our newest members, Peter, asked Ken about his creation process, whether his work was created by multiple stills or small clips of video.

Ken said that they are sequential stereo stills shot burst mode with a Fuji W3, and then repeated, processed, edited and animated in Ken Jacobs’ absolutely unmistakable style.

We were joined by Roberta Bennett and Rachel (M.Henry Jones’ wife), Eric Drysdale, Peter, our new friends Sosh and Mark and of course Gerald Marks. Ken seemed as happy to meet all of us as we obviously were of him.

CONGRATULATIONS KEN JACOBS 👏👏👏👏 and thank you for your lifetime of creative contributions. We absolutely love you and appreciate the hell out of your work.

If you have trouble playing back the video (I seem to be) here is a link to an Instagram post with a bunch of videos shot that evening

I’ll be peppering this post with some more photos from our members once I get permission and following this post with some ETERNALISM style works of my own, once I get the film processed in the Imagetech 3lens lenticular camera I shot the event with. Everyone asked me if it was a 3D camera, but what else would I be bringing to this reception for a living legend Stereographer?

All images/video by ilicia Benoit, 2023, unless otherwise noted.

Thank you so much for reading!