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andy clocks in
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  andy clocks in Question : What is your profession?  Andy Warhol  : Factory owner  .Two anecdotes reveal something of Andy Warhol’s inner workings. In the1950s when he was employed as a commercial artist, Arthur and TeddyEdelman of Fleming Joffe Ltd often hired him to advertise their shoes. Whenthey decided to introduce a snakeskin range for women they asked him tocome up with a visual idea. They remember that ‘he took a snake and drew ashoe out of it…he had a very literal way of approaching things. If you sayyou wanted a snake shoe, he made a snake shoe’In the 1980s, now a superstar in the art world, Warhol invited his assistants back to his house on a break from work. Benjamin Liu recalls him saying:“I’ll make some lunch for you guys.’ This was unheard of to the assistant.Liu says ‘I thought that’s amazing. And you know what he made? Now Ithought he was playing a joke on us. He opened a can of Campbell’s tomatosoup and heat it up and gave us some bread. I said ‘you know what? Youdon’t have to play the pop artist – this is the off hours. But then he did, Iguess he really eat that stuff.’Andy Warhola was born into a world of factories. He grew up inPittsburgh, a steel town where the river ran orange and his father worked inconstruction. His family were Slovakian and Byzantine Catholic, a religionthat placed emphasis on icons as a vital element of worship. Industry in thecity provided a model for life and art. The H. J. Heinz company, for example, was based in Pittsburgh and its motto was ’57 Varieties’, a slogan  devised by Henry Heinz after noticing an advertisement for ‘27 varieties of shoes’ in a New York elevated train. In 1977 Warhol recalled the factorysaying ‘when I lived in Pittsburgh, the Heinz factory was there, and I used togo visit the Heinz factory a lot. They used to give pickle pins.’Andy Warhol, of course, began his artistic career drawing shoes in NewYork as a commercial artist and later shot to fame with his silkscreens of Campbell’s Soup cans (‘I should have done Heinz soup. I did the HeinzKetchup box instead.’). In November 1963 he moved into a new studio onthe 5 th  floor of a building on 231 East 47 nd  street, a disused hat factory. HereWarhol established his own factory, his first, which later became known asthe ‘silver factory’. It was silver, of course, because everything had been painted or covered with silver foil by Billy Linich, a photographer whoquickly settled into the factory and to document it throughout most of itsexistence. Linich, later known as Billy Name, created a vital early image of the studio during the fabrication of Warhol’s box sculptures. In the photo,lines of painted boxes (Brillo, Heinz etc) extend across the floor betweensilvered pillars, as in a factory line. The works themselves replicated factory-made cardboard boxes used to transport factory made domestic products.When the East 47nd Street space wasn’t being used for boxes it wastaken up with silkcreen production. At the time, Warhol explained his preference for this technique saying ‘I’m for mechanical art. When I took upsilk screening it was to more fully exploit the preconceived image throughthe commercial techniques of multiple reproduction.’ His assistant GerardMalanga recalled that this approach was part of a larger context in whichtechnology in general fascinated the artist:  Andy loved all sorts of machines and gadgets, embracing newtechniques and technologies, working with tape recorders, cassettes,Polaroid, Thermofax, but the heart of all this experimentation hadas its central focus photography and silkscreen for making a painting. This was by extension his love for the machine becausethe screen process was very machine-like. Andy’s reasoning wasthat the silkscreen would make it as easy as possible to create a painting: Ironically, the process relied directly on manualapplication.Warhol, of course, famously took this machine analogy further, declaring inan interview with Gene Swenson in 1963 that ‘The reason I’m painting thisway is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that whatever I do and domachine-like is what I want to do.’ Later he amplified on this approach,characterising it as a self-defence mechanism, saying ‘Life hurts so much. If we could become more mechanical, we would be hurt less – if we could be programmed to do our jobs happily and efficiently.’ Taking this further again, he outlined an intimate relationship with technology that goes far  beyond Gerard Malanga’s description:When I got my first TV set, I stopped caring so much about havingclose relationships with other people. I’d been hurt a lot to thedegree you can only be hurt if you care a lot. So I guess I did care alot, in the days before anyone ever heard of “pop art” or “underground movies” or “superstars.”So in the late 50s I started an affair with my television which hascontinued to the present, when I play around in my bedroom with asmany as four at a time. But I didn’t get married until 1964 when Igot my first tape recorder. My wife. My tape recorder and I have been married for ten years now. When I say “we”, I mean my taperecorder and me. A lot of people don’t understand that.  The mechanisation of the Factory, then, was a deliberate and fundamentalelement of Warhol’s practice. In a sense, it was also the addition of moretechnology to the Factory that led to its growth. In July 1963 Warhol boughthis first movie camera, a 16mm Bolex with motordrive. This enabled him tomake one shot three-minute takes and facilitated the making of his earlysilent films. In spring of 1964 he purchased an Auricon ‘single system’movie camera that allowed him to record sound simultaneously, leading tothe creation of his first sound films. In August 1965 Philips RecordingCompany sent him one of the first cassette tape recorders that he could keepif he did something to publicise it. Warhol’s solution was to follow Ondine,an amphetamine-fuelled factory regular, for twelve hours recording everyfacet of his life for eventual publication as the novel a .These machines were at the heart of the silver factory. They gaveWarhol the same thing as machines on the production lines of other factories- consistency. It was a new machinic democracy. He explains this in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol  , using Coca-Cola as an example:What’s great about this country is that America started the traditionwhere the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you canknow that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and noamount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bumon the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all theCokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.A camera had a similar sense of democracy. Everything could potentially berecorded and the camera would not discriminate between the 13 most  wanted men and the 13 most beautiful girls or boys in the New York sceneof the 1960s.The inclusiveness of the machines was reinforced by the titles of their early products. Sleep ,  Eat  ,  Blowjob ,  Kiss  and  Empire  all pointed to basichuman physical needs or underlined the mute and irrefutable existence of things. There was a literal quality to these films that extended into their  presentation. Each take was linked to the next with its lead-in and run-outmaterial unedited, acknowledging the presence of film itself and the camera.Within each take there was no editing, an action unfolded from beginning toend and the running time of the film, as in Sleep  or  Empire , was equivalentto the subject – 8 hours sleep or 12 hours of night and dawn.There were artistic decisions being made within this process; thelighting of  Eat  , for instance, creates a sharp, graphic silhouette of RobertIndiana’s profile in the manner of a Jean Cocteau drawing; the framing of   Blowjob  focuses on the recipient’s facial reactions, recalling the art historicaltradition of depicting ecstasy. Most importantly, the initial creation of a premise for the film was often radical whether it was the recording of a blowjob or a series of kisses. The subversive power of these decisions,though, depended on the camera’s consistency. This meant that whenWarhol filmed a series of kisses in 1963 he could include several that werehomosexual and one that was interracial. The potentially scandalous natureof these inclusions was offset by the indifference of the machine recordingthem. A homosexual or interracial kiss was as erotic or banal as aheterosexual kiss. The production line aesthetic of the film levelledeverything. If all the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good, then thesame applied to kisses.
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