Thom Andersen

  • Lucy Raven, China Town, 2009, still from a photographic animation, 51 minutes 30 seconds.


    HOW DO YOU SHOW what’s not there anymore—or what’s not there yet? Answers run throughout the work of both Lucy Raven and Thom Andersen, who trace processes and places that are gone, hidden, or changing so rapidly that we can hardly keep pace. Raven’s photographic animation China Town, 2009, currently showing at MoMA PS1 in New York, features thousands of photographs arranged in a loping, stuttering sequence that tracks the production of copper wire from the metal’s mining in Nevada to its processing and use for electrification in the vast Three Gorges Dam in central China. Andersen’s landmark films Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) and Red Hollywood (1995), are precisely calibrated montages of cinematic clips that reveal, respectively, the movie industry’s grip on its city and its engagement in the suspicion, surveillance, and censure of global politics.
    Far from the stock-in-trade didactics of documentary or metanarrative, Raven and Andersen each offer audiovisual experiences that toy with the forms of time and media themselves. Artforum invited the two artists to meet in Los Angeles and talk about their mutual commitments to unearthing the past and picturing what is to come.

    THOM ANDERSEN: How did you think about the processes of work you filmed in China Town [2009]? I like the idea of using stills in the movie, jumping from one still to the next. Paradoxically, it clarifies what’s going on. Is that what you had in mind?

    LUCY RAVEN: I’d always had the idea to make China Town as an animation and to work from still photographs, which I’d never done before. I think the question of how you show work and how you show an industrial process clearly is really difficult, and one function of the stills was to slow down the moving parts enough to see them better.

    TA: So how did

  • Camp, Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol began as a film-maker by making extremely long films in which nothing, or almost nothing, happened. “Sleep” and “Empire” managed to astonish people by their overweening length and their insistent silence. Warhol reduced the cinema to its simplest possible manifestation—a single image that moved. This was also its first manifestation historically: Muybridge’s trotting horse, Dickson’s sneezing man, Lumiere’s decelerating train. But where these primitive films lasted only a few minutes Warhol’s first film “Sleep” lasted eight hours in its original version. By this radical elongation