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Jacob Burckhardt

Adjunct Professor

Jacob Burckhardt has worked at a variety of day jobs - blueberry picker, steel mill laborer, fuller brush man, truck driver, taxi driver, camera repairman, art photographer - all the while making underground films. He specializes in sound production and has done sound recording and mixing for projects ranging from an Italian Rai-tv feature production in North Africa to the American porn industry.

Burckhardt directed and produced two features which screened at various international festivals and were distributed on video: It Don't Pay To Be An Honest Citizen (1984) with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Vincent D'Onofrio, and Landlord Blues (1986).

In 1990 Burckhardt, Royston Scott and Ms. Mahogany Plywood made The Frankie Lymons Nephew Story. In 2002 they continued their collaboration with Freedom Ho, Or Harriet Tubman's Tale (2002). Louis The Fourteenth Street (2004) is the latest installment in the continuing series, "Black Moments in Great History." Two more productions are in the works.

Burckhardt continues the 16mm film work he began early in his career. He has made a series of poetic and contemplative black and white shorts, the latest of which is ROMA, showing the modern city from a pedestrian's point of view, featuring the ancient stones, water, graffiti, lights, cats and even the Pope.

Burckhardt became curious about sound and sound tracks many years ago, after discovering his first 78 record, along with a windup player, in a pile of rubbish in a Maine barn. Since the early '80s Burckhardt has been mixing and editing sound professionally, moving from analog to digital sound in 1995. He also designs environmental sound tracks for other artists' dance and performance works, and more recently, the web.
Burckhardt prefers film and video shorts, in which the direct relationship between film and filmmaker is preserved. He also works in still photography and recently exhibited his black and white gelatin silver prints at Millennium Film Workshop.

Projects & Links

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.