Sleep, Static Films and the Displacement of Attention and Distraction

Vincent Baptist


Categorized as both an instance of ‘durational cinema’ and ‘cinema of stasis’, this paper takes Andy Warhol’s 1963 film Sleep as case study to investigate how the seemingly opposed spectatorial modes of attention and distraction are installed in contemplative film works.This conceptual inquiry is initially enabled by aligning Jonathan Crary’s critical analysis of the contemporary homogenization of perceptual experience with Johanna Drucker’s investigation of conceptions of art. Yet, considering certain historical insights with regard to durational aesthetics and the spectatorial experiences that these elicit, it subsequently becomes necessary to also consider the ways in which a static film potentially stimulates or enables disruption and distraction. Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer form the theoretical counterparts to Crary and Drucker, through which the juxtaposition between attention and distraction can be explicated more fully. Ultimately, by means of additional contextual information on Warhol’s film, it is possible to characterize the apparent experiential paradox between attention and distraction that underlies Sleep as a conflicting, yet reciprocal bond.

Słowa kluczowe: Attention, distraction, stasis, sleep, Andy Warhol

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