Some people have sat so still and unblinking for their film session that it seemed the camera was broken. One couple sat nose to nose on the lone stool before the camera and are planning to come back to kiss for the entire three minutes.
They're all doing Screen Tests
at the Andy Warhol Museum
-- a new opportunity for patrons to duplicate Warhol's Screen Tests from the mid-1960s. Back then, Warhol stood a 16mm Bolex camera on a tripod and ran three minutes of black and white film on nearly 500 subjects in his Factory, asking them simply to sit still.
"He called them a 'stillie' at first," says Greg Pierce, assistant curator of film and video for the Warhol.
"They turned into Screen Tests later.
"A lot of people couldn't sit still," he says. "Some people took three minutes to tousle their hair. Artist Jim Rosenquist rotated his stool for three minutes."
The museum has duplicated the Factory setting, placing a digital camera inside a gutted Bolex and even recreating the sound of the film spooling through. Patrons who buy a museum admission, starting this week, can watch some of Andy's originals in the sixth-floor film and video department and then choose their own black or white background, camera distance and lighting. The video is then sent instantly to a museum computer, which creates a Web link for the video. Subjects can choose to share their Screen Test publicly -- or not.
When played back, the video runs at three-quarter speed -- just as Andy showed them during Factory events, giving the films a "a dream-like quality," says Josh Jeffery, the Warhol's manager of digital engagement.
"You are the artist and the superstar," adds Jeffery, noting that the use of black and white is neither a gimmick nor a nostalgia trip. It's just part of Andy's artistry. "We've found ourselves over the past couple of years going out and showing how these processes were done for real," he says -- something's that's necessary in the age of Instagram photo filters. "Warhol created these really beautiful things and there was a process to them. We want you to understand the process by making your own."
Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Greg Pierce and Josh Jeffery, Andy Warhol Museum