Warhol’s ability to frame objects in a way to showcase them solely can also be seen in the 500 “living portraits” he shot between 1964 and 1966 know as Screen Tests. The Screen Tests consist of three-minute static shots of individual people. These films were all shot at the Factory, and it is clear that what was happening off camera was often times more exciting than what was happening on camera. Warhol took people out of the world around them in the Factory, away from the whole, to create an entirely new view of that individual. He has the ability to frame shots in way that restricts the viewer from what the human eye would see if they were present at the scene. Ann Buchanan’s emotional response to stimuli off camera would not have been as powerful if we had been allowed insight into what was happening in the world around her. Instead, removing her from the whole and focusing solely on her expression is what makes her particular Screen Test intriguing.
Additionally, Blow Job serves as a perfect example of how Warhol masters the art of framing. This thirty-five minute film consists of a close up of DeVeren Bookwalter as he supposedly receives a blow job from someone off camera. Whether Bookwalter is actually receiving a blow job or not is left for the viewer to decide. Warhol allows the audience to have just enough information to gain insight into what is happening on screen, without completely giving everything away. He wants you to draw your own conclusions and think differently about what is being presented to you as a viewer.
The beauty of Warhol’s work often lies in its ability to create an attentive response within the zone of indetermination. The combination of his use of long shots and restrictive framing creates a captivating and sometimes unsettling cinematic experience. What is left out of frame is often what creates an enthralling event for the audience. You are confronted with images in which you are forced to encounter for the duration of the entire film, whether you want to or not.
- Stephanie Class