Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathAuteurs

icon: previous page

5. Andy Warhol

In Smith’s work, Maria Montez’s star quality was localized in her failure, in her impractically grandiose visions, which could not be instrumentalized by the machinery of her environment. For Warhol, star quality is something like a Hollywood-manufactured surplus, a phenomenon that projects far beyond cinematic plans and calculations, in both a commercial and an artistic sense. This kind of star quality was a transcendent attribute in certain people, which, just as in Smith’s films, had nothing to do with the artistic ability of an actor. It could be seen, not by failing to meet industry standards, but when that standard was exceeded and expanded. This difference between Smith and Warhol might seem to be trivial or academic, since neither one actually ever troubled himself with consistent theoretical formulas and both sought that particular romantic moment where the individual is incommensurable with the commercial machine. However, this difference is not simply a theoretical one. While Smith’s aesthetic also boiled down to a real, continual failure to comply with the demands of capitalism (to deliver products, complete works, or even to allow a performance to begin and end),


Warhol’s aesthetic, on the other hand, amounted to booming productivity, a difference, which also had its ‹philosophical› reasons. While Smith develops an almost negative-dialectic trash aesthetic by observing and being fascinated with a certain sort of Hollywood film, Warhol, in a rather Foucauldian manner, sees a special productivity in Hollywood, a dispositiv that, in its positive incarnation, may arrive at a new form of human production that goes far beyond what the film industry, in its calculation and greed, wanted to bring about: the production of and emphasis upon human peculiarities, which could not really be made useful for either an individual film or the industry’s master plan. Such human peculiarities seem to occur exclusively through the encounter between a particular human subjectivity and an industrially configured apparatus that is extremely sensitive, both psychologically and technologically. Thus Warhol wanted to continue to produce precisely this quality in his Factory, but in a more concentrated form, focusing entirely on this essence, the star quality of his actors. He was aware of the fact that he knew people who had more star quality than the usual actors, who were, after all, still

icon: next page