Warhol Screen Tests as Screen Saver

I recently came across the film 13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests on Netflix and was captivated by the simple beauty of what I consider to be living portraits (sort of like those moving pictures from the Harry Potter movies). From the distribution company:

Between 1964 and 1966, Andy Warhol shot nearly 500 Screen Tests, beautiful and revealing portraits of hundreds of different individuals, from the famous to the anonymous, all visitors to his studio, the Factory. Subjects were captured in stark relief by a strong keylight, and filmed by Warhol with his stationary 16mm Bolex camera on silent, black and white, 100-foot rolls of film. The resulting two-and-a-half-minute film reels were then screened in slow motion, resulting in a fascinating collection of four-minute masterpieces that startle and entrance, mesmerizing in the purest sense of the word. – Plexifilm

I recommend you check check it out, either on Netflix or through some of the Youtube excerpts from the film. Here are a couple so you can see what I mean:

Immediately, I starting thinking about how cool it would be to turn these films into a video wall display of 13 panels, with each one looping continually. The movements would be minimal enough not to force focus, but would provide a fascinating and moving piece of art. Since I don’t really have the ability to make such a piece right now (I have neither the equipment nor the rights), I started thinking about how I could create this as a screensaver or moving desktop for my computer. For my first test, I simply downloaded one of the Youtube versions and created a screensaver using Quartz Composer I can then, using Wallsaver turn that into a desktop that runs constantly in the background. Currently I don’t have it running because my computer, a 2007 Macbook Pro, chugs away a bit too hard when processing video and to have video running constantly would be a bit to much for it. My next step is to see if I can use Quartz Composter to take multiple videos and create a screensaver that is made up of multiple panels running concurrently. If that works, then I will buy the dvd and get better copies of each segment and then, whenever I get a new computer (probably either this fall or next fall if I can hold out for another year) I will at least run it as a screensaver if not experiment with it as my desktop background (realistically, even small amounts of movement are going to be distracting running it as a desktop would use resources that I probably don’t need to even if the computer can handle it with ease – still, the idea is cool even if I don’t end up using it as my background setting on a regular basis).

My Film Diet

I realized recently that my movie diet has become rather anemic. Not only have I been spending a lot more time watching television series through Netflix and (ahem) other means, but the movies I have been watching are just that: movies. They may be good movies (Shutter Island) or they may be pretty but bad movies (Tron: Legacy), but they are not, in general, and to make a rather blurry line of distinction, films.

I’m not sure why this relatively thin gruel of a film diet. Perhaps just my predilection for genre stories (specifically science fiction and horror), perhaps because a series demands less attention at a single time, or just that the more difficult films require greater emotional investment, or perhaps some other completely different reason. The point is that I haven’t been exposing myself to as wide a range of stories and films that I really feel I ought to. Not out of obligation or necessity, but because truly great films are a gift and I deserve to spend the time and focus that they require.

To this end, I loaded up my Netflix queue with a handful of John Cassavetes, Frederico Fellini, and Ingmar Bergman films, as well as some Woody Allen, Hal Hartley, Lars von Trier, and Wim Wenders. I’m very much open to suggestions of directors and films that you would suggest, especially by truly great filmmakers and not just competent directors.

If anyone is interested in watching some really great films over the course of the summer (either in person here in Pittsburgh or coordinating a series of movies that we correspond about through email or phone or via blogs), let me know. As for tonight, I’m going back to one of the true greats and will watch Bergman’s Wild Strawberries.

December 2010 Movies

"Gavin And Stacey – Series 1-3 And 2008 Christmas Special [2007] / REGION 2 PAL DVD / 6 discs edition / Audio: English / Actors: James Corden, Matthew Horne, Joanna Page, Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon / Director: Christine Gernon / 570 minutes" (Christine Gernon)

"After.Life" (Starz / Anchor Bay)

"Metropia" (Tribeca Film in Association with American Express)

"Game 6" (Michael Hoffman)

"His Girl Friday" (Howard Hawks)

"The Human Centipede" (Tom Six)

"Saxondale – Complete Seasons 1 & 2" (BBC Warner)

"Star Trek (Single-Disc Edition)" (J.J. Abrams)

November 2010 Movies

"Quantum of Solace" (Marc Forster)

"Red" (Robert Schwentke)

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" (David Yates)

"Janeane Garofalo: If You Will – Live in Seattle" (IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT)

"Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story" (Sarah Townsend)

"Batman: Under the Red Hood (Single-Disc Edition)" (Brandon Vietti)

"The Descent (Original Unrated Cut) [Widescreen Edition]" (Neil Marshall)

"George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead (Single-Disc Edition)" (Magnolia Home Entertainment)

"Legion" (Sony Pictures)