[Image: From Empire by Andy Warhol, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art].

Tomorrow at noon here in New York City, a musical event that I would love to attend kicks off: 8 solid hours of sound, providing a live accompaniment for Andy Warhol’s Empire—a film notorious for its one, unchanging shot of the Empire State Building.

Hanno Leichtmann, Andrew Pekler, and, most exciting at least for me, Jan Jelinek—who, bizarrely, I once introduced myself to at WMF in Berlin—will be providing the music.

The Museum of Modern Art describes Empire as follows:

Empire consists of a single stationary shot of the Empire State Building filmed from 8:06 p.m. to 2:42 a.m., July 25–26, 1964. The eight-hour, five-minute film, which is typically shown in a theater, lacks a traditional narrative or characters. The passage from daylight to darkness becomes the film’s narrative, while the protagonist is the iconic building that was (and is again) the tallest in New York City. Warhol lengthened Empire‘s running time by projecting the film at a speed of sixteen frames per second, slower than its shooting speed of twenty-four frames per second, thus making the progression to darkness almost imperceptible. Non-events such as a blinking light at the top of a neighboring building mark the passage of time. According to Warhol, the point of this film—perhaps his most famous and influential cinematic work—is to “see time go by.”

That live soundtrack/concert/event, which kicks off at Le Poisson Rouge, is just one small part of an amazing, multi-day musical event called Unsound. Unsound features several audio heroes of BLDGBLOG, including Tim Hecker, Ezekiel Honig, Moritz von Oswald, Vladislav Delay, and even Levon Vincent, among many more.

In fact, after a long day spent touring the involuted subterranea of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave back in 2001, Nicola Twilley and I drove home listening to Vladislav Delay’s Entain, our car creaking over the hollow roof of an earth below us, its caverns hidden beneath overgrown bedrock, sinkholes perhaps waiting on either side of the highway, heading northwest over collapse-prone mineral logics toward Chicago.

3 thoughts on “Empire”

  1. an unsound plug!? tomorrow will be a great day at le poisson rouge. groupshow + moritz/craig/vlad/loderbauer + levon vincent. i won't get any studio work done.

    if it's of any interest to you geoff, i am a gsapp student working on a project with kazys varnelis for the netlab on underground electronic music and its relationship to network culture. it would be great to meet you at some point.


  2. Hi Geoff

    Do you know this great filmmaker who has been around on the experimental film scene for decades – http://www.philsolomon.com/

    he's made a few films recently using Grand Theft Auto, (the top 5 of the list on his web-site) which i thought might interest you – these are not the usual silly films made from video games seen on youtube – they're really something else, very melancholic. I just thought of him as he made one based on Warhol's Empire – by somehow finding a similar shot in Grand Theft Auto – it was shown as a loop at the Wexner Centre in Ohio i think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.