A screening of “13 Most Beautiful... Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests” caused students to focus on minute details of behavior at the UT Visual Arts Center’s inaugural Lunch Break program held Thursday.
Visual Arts Center public relations intern Natalie Mathis said the Warhol screening was the first in a series of three events that will occur this semester during the lunch hour.
“We wanted this to be accessible to students and professors who can’t come back to campus during our evening events,” Mathis said.
More than 20 visitors came to the screening and enjoyed picnic-style eating while watching a montage of 13 screen tests made of some of the famous artist’s closest friends. The collection was compiled by the Warhol estate after the artist’s death. The selected screen tests are the only tests released widely to the public out of a huge collection.
“Warhol liked collecting things, whether it was cookie jars or gemstones,” Mathis said. “It was not limited to objects. These screen tests are just another collection of his.”
The 13 screen tests, which are essentially moving portraits of a variety of faces ranging from anonymous to the highly recognizable actor Dennis Hopper, are set to music in the film, an addition to the original footage.
“I found the soundtrack to be a very nice compliment to the film,” Mathis said. “The music helped carry you through what is essentially just a series of faces. The music I feel helps keep the viewer engaged. It was a nice addition to what was on its own a beautiful thing.”
Mathis said the tiniest details of human behavior were the most striking things she noticed during the film.
“They seemed to be self-conscious and hyper-aware of every single movement,” Mathis said. “He wasn’t reliant on camera angles or the background. It was just a very intimate portrait of the person.”
Art history lecturer Elizabeth Chiles said the intimacy of having to look intently at a live portrait and focusing on the small details of a person’s face can be a bit uncomfortable.
“It’s interesting,” Chiles said. “The first two or three [screen tests] I felt like I was looking at their inner struggles with themselves. It was really uncomfortable as compared to the other side where we’re looking at them and not into them.”
Business freshman Avni Kothari said she also found that watching the small movements of someone drinking a Coke, chewing on their fingernails, smoking a cigarette or just staring intently back at someone could be a bit uncomfortable but rewarding at the same time.
“It sometimes made you feel uncomfortable, but it became really personal,” Kothari said. “I liked how Andy Warhol used such minimalistic techniques that you focused on detail-oriented things.”
The next Lunch Break event will be sponsored in conjunction with the “Queer State(s)” exhibit at the Visual Arts Center and includes a talk about LGBT issues after a screening of the documentary film “Red without Blue” on Oct. 20.
Printed on Friday, September 23, 2011 as: "Lunch Break program debuts with Warhol."