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"Boredom's Erotics": Stillness and Duration in Andy Warhol's Empire

  • Author(s): Kahng, Hannah
  • Advisor(s): Baker, George
  • et al.
Abstract

This thesis examines the function of boredom as a critical operation in Andy Warhol’s Empire (1964), an eight-hour silent film that consists of a single shot of the Empire State Building spanning nightfall to the early hours of the morning. Through an analysis of Empire as well as several other silent films made by Warhol during the mid-1960s, this paper argues that boredom is not simply a passive affective state. In Warhol’s films, the bored gaze is inextricably tied to sexual pleasure. Empire proposes a model of spectatorship that does not derive pleasure from voyeurism or the production of knowledge; instead it produces a perverse pleasure that foregrounds the sensuousness of inanimate objects. This paper suggests that an analysis of boredom could expand Empire’s critical field beyond discussions of perceptual experience to include issues of ethics and desire.

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