The blog of author Dennis Cooper

M. Henry Jones Day

 

1957 – 2022

‘M. Henry Jones has been the resident mad art scientist of the East Village in New York City for over three decades now. He goes into his laboratory called SnakeMonkey Studios and creates and gives new life to his creations with the help of his fellow snake monkey mad art scientists. He scientifically and artistically creates amazing 3D image artwork, animation, innovative TV commercials, short films, web animation and a host of experimental 3D work. Henry lives out the dreams of a twelve year old. He is the founder and director of SnakeMonkey Studios located in the East Village of New York City. Henry has been working with 3D since the 1970s way before it became popular. They also sell limited edition art work and handmade T-shirts out of the studio. They do sculpture with 3D photography that he calls fly eye photography. It is a combination studio and friendly store-front shop on Avenue A, NYC.

‘Henry grew up in a little town north of Buffalo New York. He got involved in making experimental puppet films and from that point on he was making animation in an extremely obsessive way. Henry has exhibited at international museums and many galleries. He loves film to an extreme extreme. Henry thinks of film as a moving painting. He likes to capture moments and freeze them like in a dream. Henry was heavily influenced by underground filmmaker Harry Smith who later became his mentor. Henry made films with bands starting all the way back in 1979. He worked with the New York band The Fleshtones and made the ground-breaking film called Soul City. This inspired many bands to start making music videos way before the existence of MTV. Henry and his team have been creating various freak characters that they put in animated films, photos and t-shirts. Sometimes it is a family affair where Henry’s son gets involved with creating some of these freak characters and Henry’s wife Rachel Amodeo who also contributes fairy creatures with her art work. Henry’s does unique work with what is called a Stroboscopic Zolo. He creates or uses figures that are animated with strobe lights firing on them. The strobe freezes the moments. He made a series of 3D manifestations of artist Kyle Jenkin’s Killer Baby painting and continues this work with his or other artists creations.

‘I went into his shop last October to look around. Henry was working on one of his experiments, but stopped when he saw me. He looked at me with a strange look and I found myself in some kind of time warp. I left his studio two days after. I discovered that I had bought a 3D Killer Baby, a 3D Woman Alien and lots of T-shirts. Henry talks to one and all who visit his shop studio… except if he is involved in one of his mad art scientist experiments, but be careful when he has that mad gleam in his eyes, you might become one of his experiments.’ — Robert Carruthers

 

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Stills & Art























 

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Further

Fly’s Eye 3D by Snakemonkey Studios
M. Henry Jones @ instagram
M. Henry Jones, Legacy Artist
M. Henry Jones @ The Film-makers’ Cooperative
November 2011: Interview with M. Henry Jones
Re-Visions: M. Henry Jones
M. Henry Jones @ MUBI

 

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Extras


HARRY SMITH: a re-creation


Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of 1a HD 720p


[NBC] M. Henry Jones: Pre-MTV


Disclosures Through Dialogue: M Henry Jones

 

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Interview

 

Kofi Forson: We’ve been neighbors for quite a while now Henry. Didn’t know I had such a legend for a neighbor.

M. Henry Jones: Well I’ve been in the East Village for long enough. I wouldn’t call myself a legend though. That makes me look old.

Forson: I guess the first time I knew I had more than just the usual tenant living next door was when I saw Richard Edson from Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise enter your apartment.

Jones: Yeah Richard is an old friend. He worked on my wife Rachel Amodeo’s film What About Me.

Forson: The likes of you and Rachel in a way are part of East Village allure. What happened to the East Village? How and why has it changed from let’s say when you moved here in the late 70’s to where we are now? What’s going on here now?

Jones: I moved to New York in the East Village in 1976 after living above the Quad Cinema on 13th Street and 6th Avenue for the first year of college when I came to New York to study film in the animation department of The School of Visual Arts on a scholarship. The second year I moved to a small apartment on 9th Street which I had for many years. In 1976 I was literally afraid to go to Avenue A. I would come down the stairs of my building look to Avenue A and pretty much almost run to First Avenue. As the years went by and things settled down, New York became more affordable. People moved down here. They were of character and style. Some of them made their own clothes. Now more people are basically dressed in uniforms which are expensive boots or purses. The individual care which people took to put themselves together is gone. You see a lot of corporate types. Eclectic ones are not here as much.

Forson: Tell me about your Snake Monkey studio?

Jones: Well it originated from my apartment on 9th Street and Avenue A back in 1982-83. I’m currently between 12th and 13th on A. I had this thing about a monkey and a snake. It then became a character that I drew. The Snake Monkey. I haven’t animated or done much with it but I hope to have it in a future project. I have a sculpture I did of a snake monkey stroboscopic. There are two of them. In 1993 Robert Parker helped me build one. It was part of a major show in Dumbo, Brooklyn called The 4 by 4 Show.

Forson: I guess you’ll always be remembered for Soul City the film you did with The Fleshtones which was also stroboscopic.

Jones: Yeah it was a photo animation stroboscopic color film. I worked on it from 1977-1979. When the film was half way done I heard about a show coming up in Washington, D.C. Peter Zarember and I were working on Soul City trying to get it finished. We decided to create a best of what we had completed. It was a photographically animated film using cut outs. We took some of the shots that were done and put them with the soundtrack and added a color background. I called it Fleshtone Test Roll Number 11. I had made ten test rolls up to that day that would run the whole length of the song which was only two minutes. It had various animations with photographs and colors strobing behind them. We put together a version of the film for a show in D.C. called What is Punk Art? We wanted to be a part of it. We went down in a bus with Blondie and The Ramones. Almost everybody from the East Village was piling into the bus. We all drove down there. In the middle of the show we set up a projector. Turned the lights off and projected the film on a blank wall. Two minutes later when we turned the lights back on everyone was speechless. I finished the film in 1979. I had a showing at the Museum of Holography.

Forson: What are your memories of the days when you worked out of your apartment? What were you listening to? What were you reading? Who were some of the people who passed through? It must have been quite chaotic.

Jones: Well we drove most of my neighbors crazy ordering Chinese food in the middle of the night. I had six or seven people working on paintings for television commercials. It reached a point in my apartment when it got a bit too much. I was asked if I could take my commercial production to another place. Rachel actually found me this studio on Avenue A. I really did enjoy working out of my apartment. When I was first working on Soul City I worked on it at Chelsea Hotel in Harry Smith’s room. I was cutting up photographs there. When I graduated School of Visual Arts I started working in my apartment. What I loved about working in my apartment was I would go to sleep wake up and the work would be unmoved. It felt like a semi trans-like dream state where people would buzz and come over to visit. Snake Monkey is more centered on what happens inside the studio with respect to those working in there and also my neighbors.

Forson: The Apple Heart Daisy movie was one of the films you started in your apartment.

Jones: It’s a mega project that I worked on for twelve years from 1982-1994. It ended up to be an hour and fifty six minutes of animation created over the course of twelve years including a sound track I recorded with Buster Poindexter’s band.

Forson: Fair to say many artists and names went uncredited during this time. Who were some of the names that were important to the art movement in the East Village, Robert Parker for example? How was he an important figure?

Jones: Robert Parker came here from Canada in 1982. He remarked on the different types of forging done on buildings like the Anthology Film Archives. He noticed there had been interesting work done by the forgers.

Forson: What’s a forger?

Jones: A blacksmith. Robert Parker was a forger. He was involved with the squarters.

Forson: I remember squatters inhabited most of the abandoned buildings here in the East Village. The battles the police had with them was quite legendary. What was the Squatter Movement all about? Who were these squatters? Politically what were they saying? Did they have any rights at all?

Jones: I wasn’t tuned in to what was happening outside my studio but people would come in to work for me and they would talk about ABC No Rio. I would ask them where they were going and they would give me this mental picture of what was happening around town. I got most of this information from young people who were tuned into the scenes. Although I didn’t go to a lot of these performances I felt I had a good sense of them.

Forson: What was Robert Parker’s involvement with the Squatters?

Jones: Robert went to the squats and hung out with the kids. There were fire escapes in the back of the building. The junkies would run in through the back of the building and take everything. Robert came around and welded these gates in the back of the squats. He put a fire door there. When the Fire Department came they approved of the fire door. It inspired places like ABC No Rio to open. These were buildings in the squats that opened because of Robert Parker welding a gate there so people could feel protected and have lives while people in the squats were marauders attacking others every night.

Forson: You practice a form of photography called fly’s eye photography. What is fly’s eye photography?

Jones: Fly’s eye photography is a form of integral photograph which is auto stereoscopic. You take a picture made up of over 2000 individual little pictures. They are then put through a computer process. The pictures are inverted then placed behind a plastic screen made up of a matching number of lenses. The plastic screen make the photo appear 3-D. When you walk by the photograph the image behind the lenses interact with you. Every time you look there’s an image presented so the brain accepts it as 3-D.

Forson: You grew up in a town called Wilson, New York. Originally you were born in Texas. Was your childhood as adventurous as one would imagine. You seem possessed by ideas and somehow you attract information.

Jones: For starters I lived in a house trailer my father built a brick addition to. Then we moved to a brick house down the road. In the backyard of the house was a fish pond. The kidney shape of that fish pond appeared through my work for many years. Then my father brought me to Niagra Falls. He was doing work with chemicals that involved electricity. Niagra Falls is a great place of electricity.

Forson: When did you make the transition to art? During your formative years how were you introduced to art?

Jones: I had an art teacher who was a friend of the family’s. She allowed me to come in and make sculptures. I made a hippopotamus carved out of plaster and vermiculite. I then took an interest in film. I got a camera put film in it. I bought the camera for dollars. I shot stuff around the house.

Forson: What films were popular at this time? Were you attracted at all to Hollywood movies? Was television important in any way?

Jones: Television was important to me growing up because it had Bugs Bunny and Road Runner hour. I loved watching Under Dog and a lot of these animations. As I got older I would watch some movies. But I didn’t watch a whole lotta television. I saw a film from Yugoslavia that my teacher brought in, a film of a flying walrus. It was animation but not Bugs Bunny or Road Runner which I loved. This inspired me to make my own animated film. I took the hippopotamus sculpture I had made and attached bat wings to it. I had it flying around my room on a fishing rod. I did a film of my puppet flying around my room. I knew then I wanted to be an animator.

Forson: When did you move to Buffalo? This proved to be important in your introduction to other artists who helped shape the 80’s movement like Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo.

Jones: My sister moved to Buffalo State University. I rode my bicycle on the super highways to Buffalo and stayed with her. I did everything there, went to films, art events, sat in on classes. I gravitated toward artists walking through Buffalo. We started an outfit called Hall Walls. It was a gallery space with many hallways. Cindy and Robert were in charge of running it.

Forson: So you make your way to New York in the late 70’s. What was happening?

Jones: In 1979 the East Village was a special place. There were rock and roll bands every where, B 52’s, The Fleshtones. Clubs like Max’s Kansas City. They say when people grow up and leave home some try and go as far away as they can. They go until they can’t go any further. Some people go to New York, some to L.A. New York in the 80’s rent was cheap. For 600 dollars you could move to New York, $285 dollars for rent, $50 bucks expenses for two months. The East Village was active with parties, club activity, Grade B movies screening and alternative spaces for art events. It was different from Soho. Soho was more minimalist.

Forson: Your mentor was Harry Smith. Share with me how you met him and what was it about his work that had such a great influence on you?

Jones: Suzanne Harris, an artist I really liked a lot suggested I pay attention to Harry Smith. So I went to The Anthology Film Archives and saw screenings of his early films. I remember being completely flabbergasted. They were beautiful color movies. I fell in love with the work. I eventually wrote a paper about Harry Smith for school. After I saw The Tin Woodsman’s Dream I had to meet Harry. I started bothering Jonas Mekas. After a long while Jonas gave me a number at Chelsea Hotel. I went to see Harry. He rejected me at first because he said he never welcomed students. He eventually invited me upstairs. I was in awe with him and his room. A lot of the images he worked with were circles. The work was simple but it had a presence. At one point he said he wanted to sand for one of his collages. I went out to the hallway and took one of the ashtrays and sanded it, brought it back. We had some stocking for some photography work we wanted to do. We ended up putting the ashtrays in the stocking. The next day I went to Chelsea Hotel. I noticed that every ashtray in the entire hotel was missing. I knocked on the door to his room. He was standing in a pile of sand. It was one of those things that kinda blew my mind.

Forson: I recall vividly hearing you jingling and jangling your keys. I opened my door to greet you. We had never spoken. In talking I got to know who you are, your contemporaries like Keith Haring. People you had made friendships with like Richard Hell. Fair to say you are important to this neighborhood. You are a living example of what it once was. And hopefully will always be remembered as.

Jones: I want to make art that would make the planet a better place to live in, someway opens up people’s minds and someway sends a calming signal. Purpose of art is to help the planet. That is my political stance. It was never so much what I read about in the news. I have always been interested in the time I devoted to make art that affects the world we live in.

 

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Works


The Fleshtones ‘Soul City’


appleheart


FYC


Untitled


Another Untitled


Americas Best Glasses: Hot Rod


The Zantees ‘Brand New Cadillac’


duck pig vid


EARLYEXPERIMENTSh264


walking man


Gogo girl


Pop Goes They Bunny

 

 

*

p.s. RIP Kenward Elmslie. Very great, inexplicably undervalued poet. ** David Ehrenstein, I don’t know Godard personally, so he gets to be and stay a god. ** Misanthrope, Books are forever, that’s what’s great about them, or one of the great things. A lot of the writers I revere were dead long before I read their books. I’ve never gone to the gym, and I’m sure it’s hunky dory for one’s health, but, yeah, don’t break yourself there. ** Tosh Berman, A ‘Martian Dawn’ post will probably have too wait until I get to LA because my copy is there and there doesn’t seem to be squat about it much less an excerpt even online. I did read the other novellas, yes, ages ago. I don’t remember anything other than how much I liked them. I knew Michael knew Duncan, I think through Tim Dlugos. You probably know that Duncan did a cover for a Little Caesar book – ‘Coming Attractions’, the anthology of young poets I put out. I have a bead on a copy of the Davis essays book and in an actual store here even. ** Suzy, Hi, Suzy! What an amazing story. I count art gallery openings among the most to-avoid things on earth, even though I seem to go to them a lot. All that tense standing around, being eyed from every direction for your ‘importance’, all that boring alcohol. Refreshingly irresponsible druggies seem to think there are better things to do these days. Al though one time I went to a Robert Mapplethorpe opening in NYC, and he was extremely fucked up on some drug and could barely stay on his feet. His body was swaying and veering around so much that everyone else at the gallery backed far away from him and stood against the walls, leaving him all alone in the middle of the room making a bizarre spectacle of himself while everyone just stared at him and sipped their wine. It was such a dark moment that it seared itself into my memory forever. I’ll google sjambok. It sounds Dutch. Yeah, I don’t know, as I said to someone yesterday, I have this extremely hungry brain that just wants to vacuum up every interesting thing in the world. I don’t know why. I think I’m always hunting for things that’ll make my writing better. I have a lot of energy. I’ve been meaning to read Theo Thimo’s book. In fact, wait, I think he said he was sending it to me, so I guess I will. I don’t know that other book and the music you mentioned. Their names are ‘scribbled’ in a TextEdit doc now, so I’ll get experienced. You good? You working on anything that’s exciting you? ** Jack Skelley, Hi, JS Sr. Yes, I’m really sad about Kenward. I knew he’d had Alzheimers and had been pretty out of it for years, but still. So great! So under-recognized for his greatness! So many memories. Him singing that great song of his, ‘They’, with his boombox on the Beyond Baroque stage is way up there. Grr, fucking fucked up death, I hate thee! ** Bill, I guess it’s remotely possible he’s a DeWitt fan? Or saw that bad movie based on the novel. Maybe because his photo was taken by Gaspar Noe? Gaspar’s into some kinky stuff, you know. Hetero kinky though. ** _Black_Acrylic, Yes, I speak for the unwashed masses in saying I/we anxiously await your writing’s dam break. Hm, the only book I can think of that was a big writing prompt for me was Robbe-Grillet’s ‘For the New Novel’, but it was accidentally laser targeted at what I was looking for, so I’m not sure if it would hit your hot spot. I find that just reading fiction or whatever that I really, really like gets me raring to write. Like contact high or something. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Mm, were there more bondage things than usual? I think of the slaves as being pretty consistently into that. But, no, I never seek thematic through-lines with those posts. They’re strictly a general ‘best of’ thing. I met Stromae briefly once. He seemed extremely nice. I’ve never heard either of those Walker albums, I guess influenced by his ambivalence towards them. I’ll tiptoe into ‘We Had It All’, thanks. Oh, I liked your new song! ** John Newton, Hi. I knew Kevin very well since about 1980 and I never saw him drink anything but Tab. Fiction is fiction, right? Imagination central. I mean, look at mine. I met Warhol and Cookie Mueller. I never met John Cale or Lou Reed. A friend of mine dated John Cale for a while, but I never met him. I haven’t read any of the Nico books. I tried heroin three times. It just made me very nauseous, and I never got high. When I was on cocaine I did what I usually did. I never had specific activities planned for it. I liked it. I never had a problem with it except for spending too much money on it. I never tried Ativan or benzo. I never tried PCP or angel dust and never had any interest in doing so and never knew anyone who did them. In the early 70s I was all about psychedelics. Happy day. ** Brian, I thought they were rather morbid too. I usually think the slaves are better the more morbid they are, but I’m weird. Thank you for the film funding hopes. We need all the hopes we can get. I agree pretty much entirely with you about Davies, the new one and his oeuvre. High five across the waves. Awwww, ‘The Sound of Music’, awwww. Oh, right, it’s almost the 4th of July! All those fireworks I would be emptying an ATM to buy if I were where you are. Sigh. Well, have the precise kind of fun that the holiday makes accessible, man. I’ll be in Gisele Vienne rehearsals all weekend. That’ll have to do. ** Right. M. Henry Jones was a really special and odd maker of films and videos and imagery who died a couple of weeks ago, well known and revered in the East Village scene but little known outside those borders, and I thought I would pay my respects with a post. Hence, … See you tomorrow.

6 Comments

  1. Brandon

    Hey Dennis, tattoo is healing well, it turned out great so I’m happy. It’s super itchy and I’m a skin picker so it’s driving me insane but probably less than a week of this. Just working and watching movies. Just watched Peter Strickland’s new one, it was okay but I love his others, this being ehh was still better than most. I’m applying to a local bookstore to relive me soon from my job so hoping that goes well. How’re you? Hope all is good, talk later, Brandon.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    HenryJones

  3. Misanthrope

    Dennis, And Jones just died recently. First, too, I’ve heard of Elmslie. Thanks for heads up on both.

    Books are great, I agree.

    Yeah, I try to cycle my workouts, change ’em up every 6 weeks or so. It’s time to go lighter and quicker now. That’ll work.

    I have a 3-day weekend bc of July 4th. Finally going to see that Jurassic Park movie tomorrow. Then a bonfire at my friend’s house.

    I might take my mom to see that Elvis movie on Sunday.

    Need to talk to Rigby too. He’s going to NZ soon to see his mom.

    Hope your weekend is great, sir.

  4. _Black_Acrylic

    Yes RIP indeed MHJ, his would be a life well lived.

    Today my mum and brother went to visit my new flat with my brother’s builder friend, who will be doing a bit of work on the bathroom there. All are very enthused about this new property and I’m very much looking forward to moving in, whenever that may be. Should just be a few weeks at the most, I would have thought. An enormous front room which will serve as the ideal writing retreat, is how I envisage my new surroundings.

  5. ANGAYRAZE (FART)

    Dennis!
    Oops! I gave you the wrong link for my bod! Apologies, I will send u the right one in this message, I have been working 3 of my 5 consequtive days at work this week, because my manager is on holiday and my other manager is off for a month so it’s been helllll, next week i start rehersing for this live show im doing in august, which will be fun.

    Today also, I did potentially one of the gayest things I’ve done in my life which was fun, I have this friend called Gabriel, his mother is from El Salvedor so he has a Central American look to him, full lips, thick eyebrows etc etc, we have known each other for maybe 3 years? We fucked like twice before covid at his and then covid happened, and before that he breifly went to London for uni which didn’t turn out well. But since I have become more muscular we have been flirting again. He said to me today that every week I’m becoming more buff, and we flirt in front of customers to half deliberatly fuck with them, it’s funny. But today, we were just flirting, him more than usual, I think he was just more horny than usual? He was the only one in the shop and when there was no customers he legit took my hand, led me to the storage room and we legit like, made out for 10 mins with full tongues, like just straight up french kissing with no lip to lip romanticism, i felt super empowered hahahaha, if he was closing up for the night I would have probs done more, but somebody was taking over for him at 2pm. But yeah, woah, the himbo muscle jock worm is wriggling into my brain,. It’s very odd to be percieved as ‘hot’, like usually ive been this cute chubby thing, kind of bashful, shy etc, but since ive become I guess hotter, people really do address me differently. Maybe I like it, it’s certainly interesting to make out with someone in a storage cupboard for real

    hahahaha

    heres the links, hopefully they work

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FV8lrs6WIAMVnl2?format=jpg&name=medium

    and here is a nice post (if it works) of me wearing my current schoolboy adjacent aesthetic

  6. Billy

    Hey Dennis, just wanted to say that The Malady of Death is incredible, but you already know that. Incredible that something can be so minimal. Makes you seem lushly Updikean by comparison! It reminds me of Tristan and Isolde, and the way Wagner’s deathly darkness is both different and similar to the contrast between the intimate darkness in ‘lmod’ and the bright, insensitive, un-cthonic ‘death’ of the man. Hope you’re good. A writer who I don’t think you’d probably not like, but who reminds me of Duras in her affectionate depictions of male cluelessness, and her eroticism, is Elizabeth Jane Howard. Looks a bit genteel from the outside, and not remotely avant garde, but don’t let that put you off too much. I’m doing OK; going to try and catch benediction this week as I hear raves. Seeing fran lebowitz tomorrow in London and hoping it won’t be two hours of her yelling about roe, precisely because I suspect I’d agree with her about it.
    Xxx

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