Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2/23/2011 Melissa Ragona

Expanding Space: Andy Warhol’s Sound Experiments
Melissa Ragona, Associate Professor School of Art, Carnegie Mellon University

Description of the talk:

This lecture foregrounds Warhol’s experiment in audio recording—he
recorded over 4,000 audio tapes from the mid-1950s to the late 1980s—
and argues that his work in sound serves as a template for his
innovations across photography, film, video, and television. His
various formal artistic strategies relating to categories such as
duration, transference across media, and spatialization have been
largely credited to his film work. What has previously been
unappreciated, however, is the extent to which his reconceptualization
of these categories began with his early work in tape recording. The
model of the 24-hour movie (initial articulations of this model
include SLEEP /EAT /KISS [1963-64]), I will argue, was born out of the
aesthetic structure of his early tape recording experiments. Likewise
Warhol’s early sound films, such as HARLOT(1964), MORE MILK YVETTE
(1966), and SCREEN TEST #1 (1965) demonstrate agility with speech,
noise, and silence that had already been tested in hours and hours of
tape-recorded experience.

Melissa Ragona’s essays and reviews have appeared in October, Frieze,
Art Papers and in the edited collections Lowering the Boom: Critical
Studies in Film Sound, eds. J. Beck and T. Grajeda (U of Illinois
Press, 2008), Women’s Experimental Cinema, ed. Robin Blaetz (Duke
University Press, 2007), and Andy Warhol Live (Prestel, 2008), among
others. She is currently completing a book on Andy Warhol’s tape
recordings tentatively titled Readymade Sound: Andy Warhol’s Recording
Aesthetics, forthcoming from University of California Press, Berkeley.
She is an Associate Professor of Critical Theory and Art History in
the School of Art at Carnegie-Mellon University.