A present from the past - Page 2

Colter Jacobsen uses a pencil to turn old photos into "Your Future"

"When I try to find a photo to draw from — which takes a long time — it's like me trying to predict what I'll be meditating on for the next couple of weeks," he says. "I don't take it lightly, and it's often related to something personal."
The element of prediction might be what Jacobsen is referring to when he says that these drawings stemming from old photos "are about the future." In Four Star Video's attic, Jacobsen has painted the titular words of the show over a newspaper obit page and fixed it to the corner of a wall so it can also read "Our Future." This melancholy verging on morbidity spills from some drawings, especially a truly great one of a waterfront snapshot that uses a film-frame crosscutting technique to convey romantic heartbreak.
The show's staircase climb to a heavenly Four Star "Future" is typical of Jacobsen's casual yet concise use of place, and there are many elements at play, some so understated that a viewer who isn't attentive might not even notice. Two papier-mâché teardrops hide in a corner, near the store's rare DVDs of Salo and Lilya 4-Ever. (Images are often presented in twos and fours and eights: "Eight is my favorite number," says Jacobsen. "It's like two circles or two eyes.") A pair of found-object mock columns stand next to the store's shelving units. In a practice that updates pop art chestnuts to the current moment, Jacobsen — who first used the technique while reeling from being "totally blind" about a guy he was in love with — uses Wite-Out to cover up most of Peanuts and other strips (including his least favorite, Family Circus) in a way that reveals the wartime aggression and tension seething beneath.
Though he uses newspaper “funnies,” Jacobsen refers to these works as his “Saddies.” "I just wanted to show what I was seeing," he says as we travel back down 24th Street past some children. Another irony: This newspaper is a space to discuss the deathly element within Jacobsen's use of newspapers as found material. "My friend Tariq [Alvi] sees paper as death, because he once saw a mummy and the quality of its skin was like paper," Jacobsen says when I mention the current bicoastal interest in works — especially drawings — on found or old documents.
As we near the end of our stroll, I ask Jacobsen about another walk, one in which he led a group of people — half of them blindfolded and the other half accompanying those wearing blindfolds — during a Sunday evening this June. The walk spanned from one Mission laundromat to another and included Jacobsen’s discussion of the visual theories of physicist Joseph Plateau, who went blind from staring at the sun. The choice of the event's landmarks stemmed partly from the laundry lectures of Portland-based artist Sam Gould of Red76 and partly from Plateau's interest in bubbles. "Does that all relate somehow?" Jacobsen asks as he explains it. "I have trouble figuring out how one thing connects to the next."
"Usually, where I start [with a project] is where I'm stupid or ignorant — which can be anywhere, really," he admits with a laugh, after saying that he even counted the number of steps — 313 and 168 — between the two laundromats and the walk's starting point. Right around then, we reach those 37 steps that lead back up to his apartment, the same staircase that Jacobsen's friend and musical collaborator Tomo (of Hey Willpower and Tussle) climbs, carrying a column, in a drawing within the Four Star Video show. When I say that the staircase's red steps are just two short of matching a certain famous 39 Steps, Jacobsen says Alfred Hitchcock is one of his favorite filmmakers. It's funny how one thing connects to the next — and often beautiful when Jacobsen renders the connections. SFBG
Through July 31
Daily, noon to 10 p.m.
Attic, Four Star Video
1521 18th St., SF
(415) 826-2900

Also from this author

  • Sounds of summer

    Concert and music festival highlights from air guitar to Woodsist this season 

  • Soul sounds

    The Weeknd and Hype Williams navigate music and identity in 2011

  • Snap Sounds: Jessica 6