The video below is an excerpt from a 55-minute work. It was made with a new version of the Gestus algorithm, applied to Andy Warhol’s Blow Job (1964).

Andy Warhol's original film relies on an aesthetic based on long takes, a fixed camera position, and a shallow space, to capture the micro-movements of sexual pleasure expressed in the changing physiognomy of a young man.Blow Job draws on and foregrounds such resources as faciality, presence, affect, sexuality, off-screen space, shallow space, the close-up, and duration.

Blow Job stands in sharp contrast to Judex, which is largely based on medium or long shots and deep space compositions. The Gestus software produces very different visual effects when applied to one film or the other. The aesthetic experience afforded by the application of Gestus is obviously not independent of the choice of source material.

Warhol also allows what would be considered defects (flashes of clear light signaling the ends and beginnings of film reels, physical marks on the frame, etc.) to become part of the visual aesthetic. This approach was typical of certain trends in underground cinema. The Gestus software foregrounds these physical marks, so that sometimes the movement of the face matches (e.g.) the movement of light particles or scratches. In this way, Getus references the physical specificity of the original movie material as it figures in the tradition of North American Underground Cinema. 

The technical procedure employed here differs from the approach used with Judex in that it matches movie segments of varying, rather than fixed, length. The algorithm begins by looking for a set of good matches of a minimum base length L (in this case, L = 15 frames). Once it has collected several matches, it tries to expand each of those matching segments (i.e., it adds frames and tests whether the result is also a good match). It then chooses the best overall match of the maximum length. The length of the matching segments can range theoretically from 15 to 200 frames. This procedure generates changing visual rhythms.

This piece is best shown as a single-channel projection. The following image is from the show Inside is Not The Opposite of Outside, curated by Synthetic Zero and Emily Roberts-Negron at the Bronx Art Space, June 2012.


photograph by Evans Chan