April 13th, 2009


Andy's adventures in the 1980s

Dotted about this entry are three pop videos from the 1980s.

The Cars: Hello Again (1984)

What do they have in common? Well, they were all produced by Andy Warhol's 1980s video production company and feature cameo appearances by Andy himself. Andy appears as a desultory barman in Hello Again, a desultory Bob Dylan impersonator in Misfit, and an enthusiastic Andy Warhol in I'm Not Perfect, which also features Keith Haring preparing a room-sized dress for Grace Jones.

To me, these videos have something other than Warhol in common. They all sound as if they come out of the same studio and have the same writer and producer. This is mainly down to the technology -- Fairlight and Synclavier beats and sounds, and the particular style of editing and recording these then-cutting-edge technologies imposed on their users.

Curiosity Killed The Cat: Misfit (1986)

Rather than evoke the look of the work he'd been known for in previous decades, Andy opts to play with the video technology of the 1980s, staying "trendy" by placing The Cars on single-colour backdrops and adding text via simple computer editing techniques. You can see a similar willingness to embrace the new and the now in this video of Andy trying out the (to us, laughably primitive) features of the Amiga computer graphics system in 1985.

Grace Jones: I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You) (1986)

The thing is, Andy's rather craven (and, I think, rather "scene gay") desire to "stay young" by adopting 80s tropes and technologies so readily, and his rather surprising lightness of touch in these pop videos (again, I'm inclined to think, a rather "gay" quality) actually gives them a historical weight and value for us. The 80s is now a rather intriguing foreign country for us, and Andy -- despite being, essentially, a part of 1960s history -- delivers them to us rather well. His lightness delivers surprising substance, and the transience and triviality of his 1980s intervention into pop video makes it, paradoxically, permanently interesting. Andy was too gay, thank Christ, to make the mistake of trying to be "timeless" or "authoritative".