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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathBaldessari
Empire (Warhol, Andy), 1964Sleep (Warhol, Andy), 1963

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interference through which reality finds its analogy in film. The presumed veracity of the photo, according to Michael Taussig, is like sympathetic magic insofar as the belief system rests on contact between photons emitted by the subject and the photographic plate. Andy Warhol’s films «Empire,» «Sleep,» «Eat» and «Blowjob» all seemingly guarantee that this contact remains continuous: no cuts, no camera movement and a relatively stationary subject. These movies demand a surplus «persistence of vision» that will transcend rational knowledge of film’s intrinsically fragmentary structure. This is the mythos of «real time.» Filming the Empire State Building this way seemingly reconstitutes its mythic, existential status. Within the gallery system of the 1990s, Warhol’s auratic use of the camera paves the way for the reintegration of film and video as updated forms of painting. When Baldessari brings a similar approach to bear on a mixed collection of ephemera, the viewer must accept it, too, as mythic—or else call into question cinema’s documentary authority.


4. Photographic Works

As opposed to his film approach, Baldessari typically constructs his photo works around the principle of montage. Here, unlike Eisenstein’s classic version, Baldessari’s photo montage is apparently non-signifying. For raw material, he typically uses an intervalvometer to shoot stills from film or television. What the exact shot will be is arbitrary. Thus, the shots are not «composed» in the usual sense. Rather, actors—or the camera—are caught in transition. By combining these pictures with unrelated shots from other movies, Baldessari wrenches them out of their intended narrative. Thus montage foregrounds latent meanings within a given still. (In this regard, the photograph itself is literally metonymic because the 35 mm negative derives directly from film stock.) The misuse of these photos frees them from their regular denotative function. They return to a more fundamental materiality, i.e., what Eisenstein called «the factual immutability of the shot.» However, because the camera always produces surplus information, the shot can’t be reduced to a univocal meaning; that is the role of the caption. What is immutable, then, is not necessarily invariable—at least on the level of the way

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