In 1975 he moved to New York City, where he attended the School of Visual Arts. He soon became one of many prominent figures in the East Village alternative art space, working with several artists and musicians, and founding Snake Monkey Studios, a concept based out of his apartment on Avenue A.Jones' films throughout the 1970s and 1980s transcended the boundaries between moving and stagnant imagery, employing a meticulous and carefully crafted process to give viewers a unique visual experience. His early works are also representative of some of the earliest interactions between music, and films intended to complement its structure; one of Jones' most widely recognized films, "Soul City," is a stroboscopic color film created in collaboration with The Fleshtones. The two-year production of the two-minute film required each individual frame of the group's performance footage to be precisely cut, tinted and rephotographed.The film made its debut on the music and art scenes in 1979 and was unlike anything that had ever been done before. "Soul City," along with Jones' other animations for musicians pioneered the music video artistic concept years before MTV and the rise of music videos as we know them today.
Visiting him in his studio or running into him in the East Village neighborhood where we both still lived was an adventure in its own right. My head would spin getting lost in the weeds of his enthusiasms, but I'd always walk away elevated by the conversation, inspired by his hands-on approach and dedication, in his words, "to make the world a better place."
Fans of Jones often refer to him as a “technical genius” but he is probably better described as a forward-looking visionary blessed with stubborn perseverance. Because his first works date nearly a decade before the widespread use of computers and digitization, Jones was restricted to labor-intensive analog techniques to create effects that would soon be facilitated by digital programs like Photoshop.Today we marvel not only at the visual effects he produced but also at the arduous, time-consuming processes he needed to use to achieve them. In hindsight, it becomes clear that the technology itself was the true subject of Jones’ work, as well as its most important component.