Love Is The Message Is The Message

Join me and 13 other museums and museum-like private collections in embedding Arthur Jafa’s incredible “Love is the Message; the Message is Death” [2016, ed. 13+2 AP] on my front page for the next day or so.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity, finally, to have as many people as possible see ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death,’” Jafa said.

Close t0 100K views so far, 300 simultaneous viewers at a time. Masks off and huddle up, let’s get this data to spike. Not that we can watch, collect, or curate our way out of this mess we’re in.

#DeathIsLoveIs

[Previously linked to: https://www.ustream.tv/embed/4222323]

The conversation in the second roundtable organized by sunhaus.us has barely started, and already the fact that most everyone saw the work first on a bootleg, and then marking the change between the first viewing and this moment, and the fear that exists now, is very important.

now 35min in, they’re talking about how this video was originally going to end up on the internet before it was pulled into the art world, and now here it is.

Everyone’s good, but Simone White is amazing, flat out.

Blue Screen Print

Derek Jarman, Blue, 1994,17×12 1/2 in., screen print originally made for the deluxe letterpress edition of the script by The Blue Press, now floating loose on ebay

This is a silk screen print by Derek Jarman. It was originally intended to accompany a letterpress edition of the text for Blue, his final film. That project was either produced in an edition of 150, plus some proofs, or was not realized before Jarman’s death. The numbers on the two  I’ve seen hint at a bunch–this one is labeled 17/150, and the print shown at Chelsea Space in 2014 as part of the book was 37/150.

you may approach: Blue print installed at Chelsea Space, 2014, image: chelseaspace

But the only other copies I’ve ever seen of the whole book were described as printer’s proofs. Jarman was supposed to have painted IKB on the clamshell boxes of 25 of the 150 editions. One proof on ebay back in the day said only four proofs were made before Jarman died, and its lid was painted, but didn’t have a print, and said the prints were never realized either.  Another, proof listed for sale privately, had a print (#43/150), but its lid looked more like the paper under the paintings than a painting itself.

 

Derek Jarman, Blue special edition, proof, The Blue Press, via paperbooks.ca

But that seller [pdf] said the whole letterpress edition “was centered on a loose Klein Blue screenprint signed by Jarman,” which makes it sound like the prints made it across the finish line after all. Why a signed print in a painted box doesn’t essentially become a certificate for a painting, I don’t know, but if the paintings never happened, it’s moot.

Study for Derek Jarman Blue Screen Print, 2020, gahhh, the aspect ratio…

I absolutely love this print, and may try to buy it, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why it’s portrait and not landscape. Maybe I’ll just make some and fix it myself.

LMAO This always happens to me. I think, oh, just flip it, DONE. But as I am typing in the dimensions of my new cinematic masterpiece, I am frozen. Because what should it be? Jarman made Blue on 35mm film. So 16:9 (1.77 in the US, where I first saw it, except if I look it up, some definitive-seeming sources have a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1.) But Jarman’s own print is basically 4:3, so television. (Which is OK because Blue was aired on Channel4? Or nah?) But when it was still a live performance called Bliss, Jarman projected an image of an actual Yves Klein painting, and then switched to a blue gel, so no image at all, just a frame or aperture mask on the light? I think  16:9 is the clear choice here, but still.

Next day update: after spending part of a day determining the size and placement of the blue printed field in relation to the (unconfirmed) paper size and type of the original, I repeatedly caught myself trying not to think about how the film, then the print, then the book, then the box, then the– were all approached as the last project Jarman might complete. Make just one more thing, he and those around him might have thought? Woke up again, so there is still some time.

DEREK JARMAN, SIGNED, BLUE LIMITED EDITION SCREEN PRINT, ends 5/28/2020, OK, it went for GBP 620, not bad [ebay]

Arthur Jafa Now On YouTube

Amazing people are always sneaking into town and talking at the Smithsonian American Art Museum without my knowing. Last October it was Arthur Jafa and Ja’Tovia Gary, who spoke about their work, Black music, and the conception of a Black Cinema.

At least I’m not the only one out of the loop; until the audience questions, neither Jafa nor Gary seemed to know Kanye West had rolled up that morning on Howard University with his Sunday Service tour. [Gary was not. Having. Immmmmmt, either, and criticized West’s appropriation of gospel church practice as self-promoting spectacle, as well as his alignment with fascism and the forces of state violence. Jafa was taught.]

Anyway, point is, video of the event turns out to include Jafa’s epic Love is the message, the message is death and Gary’s 2015 short film The Ecstatic Experience, neither of which I’d seen in the wild. [Gary has an excerpt on her own Vimeo.]

Jafa’s piece was acquired jointly by SAAM and the Hirshhorn.

Gwathmey Siegel’s Bernie Lomax House (1989)

Gwathmey? Or just Gwathmey-esque? Weekend at Bernie’s (1989, dir. Ted Kotcheff), all screencaps via Mirror80

I confess I have never seen Weekend at Bernie’s 1 OR 2, but I knew the general concept from the trailer. What I did not know was that it was supposed to be based in a fictional Hampton called Hamptons Island.

And that the beach house of Bernie Lomax, the corrupt insurance CEO of the title, was actually built for the shoot in North Carolina, near a state park on Bald Head Island, a golf cart-based village south of Wilmington, and that it was torn down after production ended.

And if the commenter at retro styleblog Mirror80 is to be believed, Bernie Lomax’s house was DESIGNED FOR THE FILM BY GWATHMEY SIEGEL.

Which would make it the greatest Hamptons-related pop-up architecture since Calvin Klein’s full-scale plywood beach house maquettes. [Yes, technically, Bernie’s came before Calvin’s. But NOT before Calvin’s Gwathmey. (Didn’t Gwathmey do Calvin’s old barn house?]

Now that I mention it, the freestanding wall holding up that giant brise-soleil (does this have a name?) on Bernie’s house does look like it’s made of 4×8 plywood sheets. I’d be surprised if the house was much more complete than an actual set. How did this making of story not get told before now?

Cogan Residence (1970), East Hampton, image Ezra Stoller/ESTO via Gwathmey-Siegel

Commenter Evan says Bernie’s house was based on the 1970-2 Cogan House (above), but there are similarities as well to the François de Menil House (1979) (below), both in East Hampton. The de Menil house is now owned, of course, by Larry Gagosian.

de Menil Residence (1979), East Hampton, image Norman McGrath via Gwathmey-Siegel

I’ve scanned the production credits and cannot find any obvious explanation for Gwathmey-Siegel’s involvement. [There are other puzzles in the movie’s production design, which were the impetus for discovering the architecture, that will be addressed later.] One seemingly clear inspo, though, is Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, which came out two years before. The crooked villain in that film, Gordon Gekko, also famously lived in an oceanfront Gwathmey-Siegel house in the Hamptons. The location for that was the Steel House II (1968) in Bridgehampton, which by then had been significantly remodeled.

At first I thought Wall Street might have put a chill on the Gwathmey villain’s lair location scouting business, but it’s more likely that building a temporary Gwathmey set in North Carolina was still cheaper than shooting an entire film in the Hamptons.

[MORNING AFTER UPDATE: OK, I have seen scrubbed through the movie which is–and I cannot emphasize this enough–wacked out garbage from beginning to end. The house has basically the one finished interior space. There is a two-second shot of a Roy Lichtenstein painting which has nothing to do with anything else, artistically or spatially. And Lichtenstein is thanked in the credits. (This was the original hook for even thinking about this movie, btw.) If Gwathmey Siegel were actually involved in this, it has to be because someone on the production’s cousin worked there one summer. Nevertheless, I’ve put out some queries.]

Weekend at Bernie’s Beach House [Mirror80]
Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman [gwathmey-siegel.com]
previously, related: Calvin Klein’s House For A Single Man

Untitled (Harvey &c. &c.), 2019

Untitled (Harvey After Untitled (Walker)), 2019, walker, tennis balls, retractable stanchions, galvanized barrier, stepstool, hi-viz coat (image:Stephanie Keith/Getty Images via twitter)

Untitled (Harvey After Untitled (Walker)), 2019, walker, tennis balls, retractable stanchions, galvanized barrier, stepstool, hi-viz coat (image:AFP via Getty Images via PageSix)

The psychopath is rarely suicidal. Although he would pretend to play the game to the last, and he would viciously press a peer to take on genuinely life-threatening risks, the psychopath always saves his own skin. The psychopath may court death, but it is someone else’s. The psychopath leaves a trail littered with the broken, discarded bodies and lives of others, he trashes them, leaving them as rotten matter as he proceeds to his next site. Where he gave the impression of being deeply involved in the life and death struggles he creates around the last victim, he was always vacuous and remote.

Barriers, gates, and fences are physical and symbolic manifestations that generate publicity and rule out participation. For those unable to comply with the pressure to perform, prostheses such as walkers, picker arms, or canes for the blind are the only means of participating in public life. Celebrities, on the other hand, simply have no choice but to participate.

Everything we encounter in public space can and must be regarded as public sculpture; for every object is the product of a process of material composition and formal design. All objects influence our perceptions, our movements, our feelings, and our thoughts. Public space is not designed by human beings alone, but is instead shaped by the boundaries between public and private, institutional and commercial.

X may fashion an artifact called ‘the mirror device’ with which to manipulate Y. Using this device, X cynically fashions his tastes and judgments to accord with those of Y, thus winning Y’s trust and approbation. An alignment is formed under false pretenses, but Y, hopefully is none the wiser. Even while X is saying in effect, ‘me too, brother…’ X’s actual feelings are secreted from the interaction. X may not always mirror Y, but may instead mirror a role which is acceptable to Y. For example, X goes to Y’s door in the guise of an electrician come to fix some faulty wiring, when X is not, in fact an electrician. A fictive example of this occurs in LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. Conning devices are tools. The degree of harm that they do, if any, depends upon the purpose for which they are instrumented. Where ‘the mirror device’ might be used by a parent to encourage a child, or by a psychiatrist as a therapeutic device, it is also used by ambitious students, known otherwise as ‘brown-nosers’ or ‘ass kissers’, who cynically reword the opinions of their teachers in their written and oral work. People also use the ‘mirror device’ to ‘pass’, as Erving Goffman points out. A high school girl may try to hide her intelligence and approximate a bubbly persona instead of going dateless. Goffman details many other versions of ‘passing’ in his book, STIGMA. ‘The mirror device’ is a tool with which to modify Y, and render him more pliable to X’s manipulations. Malignant use of ‘the mirror device’ abounded in Nazi Germany. According to Hannah Arendt, one of the sights that struck Adolph Eichmann as being the most horrific was a perfect imitation of the Treblinka railway station. This imitation had been constructed for the express purpose of lulling prisoners into the mistaken impression that they had arrived at a safe and benign destination. The station had been built with patient attention to detail, with contrivances like signs and installations.

2/24 update: the psychopath was convicted on two counts of rape and sexual assault.
3/11 update: the psychopath was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Enjoy The Streaming: Our Hobby Is Depeche Mode Is Out

You blog about stuff long enough, and it comes back around. 13 years after they created it for Mute Records, Jeremy Deller and Nick Abrahams have released their fandom documentary, My Hobby Is Depeche Mode.

screenshot from the posters came from the walls

The film was screened several times beginning in 2009, when it was known as The Posters Came From The Walls, but has not been seen much since. The revised title comes from one of the film’s iconic characters, whose son is pictured above.

It is wonderful. And I am fascinated and a bit wary to watch it now, in the contorted political landscape of 2019. That German kid is an adult now, though, and it might be interesting to check in with him, see how it turned out.

[I’ve just started watching it again, and the HD aesthetic already feels like a lost era. Also, the politics is less jarring than the evolution of fandom. This now feels like an artifact of a pre-tumblr, pre-social media, pre-ao3 era. Oh my heck, I forgot about the guy with 500 vintage concert t-shirts. Does he have an etsy?

OK, there is a thread of liberation, of freedom, of music that becomes associated with or gives license to standing apart from the strictures of whatever the local status quo, from Eastern Bloc and Iranian religious authoritarianism, to the heteronormative Valley teenagerdom, to nerd vs. jock rivalry. It’s not entirely clear where Kedrick the concert shirt collector fits, but there does seem to be a respect of peoples’ DM on the DL.]

Our Hobby Is Depeche Mode [vimeo/nicholasabrahams]
Jeremy Deller’s page about it [jeremydeller.org]
Original 2009 film site (requires flash lmao) [theposterscamefromthewalls.com]

Gus Van Sans

Gus Van Sant, Untitled, 2010, watercolor on paper, 132×144 cm, image via artsy

I still admire his films. And I still definitely want to make that shot-for-shot remake of Gerry I’ve been contemplating since a day after seeing it for the first time. But nothing I have seen has me pumped for Gus Van Sant’s upcoming exhibition of wan paintings that Vito Schnabel’s putting on any minute. One thing I am intrigued and concerned by is something I have not seen.

This joint at Vito’s is not Gus’s first gallery exhibition. Artsy notes, almost correctly, that “In 2012, Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles gave him a joint show with James Franco, which featured watercolor portraits by Van Sant and two collaborative films that riffed on My Own Private Idaho.” According to the AnOther Magazine article linked above, the show, “Unfinished,” was in February–April 2011 at Gagosian Beverly Hills. The gallery’s otherwise comprehensive-slash-exhaustive website makes no mention of the show.  The Internet Archive reveals the webpage for the show was deleted some time between November 2011 and January 2012.

This image from a deleted Artsy page for the Gagosian show is the only installation shot I’ve found.

[OK, there is one mention: Derek Blasberg brings it up in an interview with Gus in the Summer 2018 issue of Gagosian Quarterly, an availability that now feels like part of the pitch phase for the current show. Gus is photographed on his sofa, in front of one of his giant, scrawly paintings.]

And it’s not like the show didn’t happen; Patrick McMullan covered it. But it wasn’t so much Gagosian giving Gus a show, as James Franco proposing a project to Gagosian where Gucci would pay to digitize 25 hours of dailies and outtakes from My Own Private Idaho, which Franco and Van Sant would each re-edit. That did not happen. Instead, Franco, “performing as” Van Sant, edited 12 hours of River Phoenix footage into My Own Private River, and some other outtakes into Endless Idaho, an adaptation of one of the three source stories for the original film. Van Sant’s contribution, beyond all the footage, was seven large watercolors of casting photos of hustlers. [Three are still listed on Artsy. They’re not bad. Watercolor seems a tricky medium to manage, especially at scale.]

That summer My Own Private River appeared at PS1 as an exhibition slash film series curated by who knows? But the Franco indulgence and the double row of unwatchable monitors points to Klaus. The film was shown on an old TV facing a casting director’s table at the end of a hall, so I guess we’re all performing Gus Van Sant now. There was also Franco’s 8mm adaptation of an earlier source script, featuring younger, Hispanic versions of Keanu & River’s characters; and Aa 20-years-older Udo Kier reprised his daddy role. Not at all confusingly, it was called My Own Private Idaho. Instead of watercolors, Van Sant showed a wall of large-scale, unmounted prints of film stills.

installation view of Summer School / My Own Private River at PS1, 2011, image: moma.org

In September 2011 Franco and Van Sant showed an installation titled “Memories of Idaho” in the lobby of the Toronto International Film Festival. It comprised Gus’s large photos “of actual street hustlers” and a new version of My Own Private River [below], edited down to a two-hour alternate take version of the original film after Joaquin Phoenix complained about the invasiveness of the 12-hour clip dump. The Film Society of Lincoln Center screening in February 2012 (programmed by Film Comment) also included Van Sant’s photos.

Franco apparently wanted to release his reworked version, but New Line wouldn’t let him. Art was fine, though. It was enough for the film and the title/hashtag to be ensconced in the River Phoenix fandom. It was uploaded to YouTube in 2015.  In 2018, Franco was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct by several aspiring actresses at his film school, which he abruptly closed. Which I mention because by this point Van Sant feels oddly peripheral to this whole project, displaced or subsumed by Franco’s hustle.

It appeared and was covered elsewhere, and vestiges of documentation exist, but it still seems odd for the gallery who staged a show to delete any record of it from their archive. In just a few years this show has appeared to be many things: a project in a gallery; a film screening in a museum; an art installation in a film festival; a test of the meaning of context and the power of celebrity; and now, a tossed-off promotional claim for attention and artistic credibility that gets obfuscated and complicated upon even a cursory examination. Art is so wild, y’all.

Know Hope: The Good Machine No-Budget Filmmaking Commandments

Good Machine producer turned Amazon Studios producer Ted Hope gave a boost to a classic post on his blog about no-budget filmmaking, and it’s worth a boost here, too. He developed the tips list with his GM partner James Schamus, and it holds up.

8. Write for a very limited audience – your closest friends. Do not try to please anyone – crowd pleasing costs.

I recently listened to my first director’s commentary in a long time, and was struck by the director’s awareness of giving advice to filmmakers, as distinct from just telling production stories or even discussing craft. But it oddly felt like the kind of conscious narrowcasting Hope mentioned.

13. Make the most of a day’s work. It’s easier to get a commitment for one day than it is for a week. Exploit people’s willingness to give a day.

I get the point, but I’ve grown wary of that word, exploit. If you’re bartering your time and project for theirs, fine, but it just feels important to respect people’s labor, not just their time.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking of filmmaking more lately for a variety of reasons, and this is a good thing to read.

The Good Machine No-Budget Film Commandments [hopeforfilm]

A Brief History of Blogging About America Imprisoning Children, 5/X

image: KQED

Dave Masaharu Tatsuno ran the dry goods store at Topaz Mountain, where Japanese Americans from the Bay Area were imprisoned during WWII. And he took a bunch of 8mm home movies, using color film which he’d pick up on buying trips back east. And then he edited the movies together into Topaz Memories [or Topaz, which is how it was listed when it was accepted onto the National Film Registry], a film/presentation which he gave at organizations around the country after the war.

Or maybe beginnin the 1990s, I haven’t watched the end of the local PBS documentary on Tatsuno, produced after his death in 2006, to figure it all out yet. I was so amped up by these detainee-made sleds at 20:05, I had to post them right away. That’s Bill Fujita, Tatsuno’s brother-in-law, pulling David Fujita and Tatsuno’s oldest son Sheldon in 1943.

The Tatsunos were expelled from their home when Dave’s wife Alice was nine months pregnant, and their second son Rod was born at the Bay Area assembly/processing center at Tanforan race track. Their daughter Arlene was born at Topaz.

Dave Tatsuno: Movies & Memories [kqed’s youtube channel via kqed.org]

COMMENTS:

My grandfather was a teacher in central Utah and volunteered to help teach the children there. He was appalled that these good people were interned (imprisoned) and admired them for how hard working and intelligent they were, and also for the patriotism to put up with this. I never knew this until I read his journal after he passed.

Ironically, he was a German immigrant whose travel to America was sponsored and encouraged by his Jewish employers who seeing the infant Nazi movement told him that if they were his age they would go to America.

They lent him the money on his word that he’d pay them back, which he did. I don’t know what happened to them.

Back to Topaz, that place is literally in the middle of nowhere desert.

[Originally published on Daddy Types on March 29, 2013, as Topaz Mountain Sleds by Dave Tatsuno and Bill Fujita, with a relevant comment included here.]

Satelloons Over Manhattan

It’s been a while, too long, since I’ve had a good, old-fashioned satelloon post around here, and wow, is this one.

Arthur C. Clarke & Stanley Kubrick looking through the Questar on the terrace of Kubrick’s CPW penthouse, 1964, image: Kubrick deutsches filmmuseum catalogue via: 2001Italia.it

On March 31, 1964, Stanley Kubrick wrote to Arthur C. Clarke in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka, obv), asking to meet to explore the possibility of working together–and for advice on buying a larger telescope than the Questar model he already had. Clarke responded immediately, and added a visit with Kubrick to his New York City itinerary just three weeks later.

As Michael Benson recounts in his new book, timed to the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the film 2001, Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, it went pretty well. AND THEN SOME:

After shaking hands on their deal, or at least their intention to negotiate one, Clarke and Kubrick repaired to the patio. They had established a real rapport over the past month, and any guardedness had long since dropped. Both were excited and didn’t mind showing it. It had been a beautiful late-spring day, with temperatures reaching 75 degrees, and was now a perfectly mild evening, with a crescent Moon hanging in a slight haze several degrees above the southeastern horizon. Thankfully the building’s heating system had been switched off weeks before, and the ash-spewing chimney was now silent. To the south, all of Midtown Manhattan was spread out before them, its lights twinkling.

Suddenly they noticed a brilliantly bright, unwavering point of white light rising above the horizon in the southwest.

Continue reading “Satelloons Over Manhattan”

John Cage Film Poster

one_11_and_103_cage_film_poster_walkerart.jpg
For a long time I’ve been a fan of One11 and 103, the film John Cage made with Henning Lohner in 1992.
But I’ve never seen this poster for the film, which was originally made for German public TV broadcaster ZDF. And which ended up in th Merce Cunningham Dance Company collection at the Walker Art Center. Now I must find one.
Also, I wonder what it means that Cage is credited as the author of the film, while Lohner is the director. In this case more than any other, I’d say the director is a performer of the composer/author’s score. Which also happens to have been generated by a software program written and executed by Andrew Culver.
Also, I must remake this film. So much on the plate.
poster for One”and 103: a film without subject by John Cage, 1992 [walkerart.org]
Previously, related: John Cage’s One11: The Making Of, now in English

THERE IS A TRAILER FOR DEKALOG


Janus Films is releasing the remastered version of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog in theaters before Criterion releases it on disc. Here is the trailer.
Seeing Dekalog in theaters in the early 1990s was one of the formative cinematic experiences of my life. I may have to do it again. The kids can find their own way back to school.
‘Dekalog’ Exclusive Trailer: Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Magnum Opus Returns To Theaters This Fall [indiewire]
Pre-order Dekalog (The Criterion Collection) for Sept 27 release [amazon]

Machine-Generated Blade Runner, By Terence Broad

Blade Runner – Autoencoded: Full film from Terence Broad.

This is fascinating. Artist/computer scientist at Goldsmiths Terence Broad has created a film using a neural network. It “watches” and encodes a film frame by frame, then it re- or autoencodes the film from the resulting data. It’s the data equivalent of printing from a negative, or casting from a mold. Except it is not a copy, per se, but a re-generation. Does that make sense? I’m trying to understand and explain it without resorting to cut&pasting his medium blog post about it. The point is, his network generated images from the encoded data that they’d been reduced to. For an entire film.
The film he chose for his algorithmic network to watch and re-create: Blade Runner. Broad goes into some of the philosophical reasons for choosing Blade Runner, but the best explanation comes from Vox, where Aja Romano reports that Broad’s freshly generated film triggered Warner Brothers’ DCMAbot, which temporarily knocked the film off of Vimeo. It was put back:

In other words: Warner had just DMCA’d an artificial reconstruction of a film about artificial intelligence being indistinguishable from humans, because it couldn’t distinguish between the simulation and the real thing.

It all reminds me of the work done at UC Berkeley a few years ago that reconstructed images from brain scan data taken with an fMRI. Which in turn reminded me of the dreamcam and playback equipment in Wim Wenders’ Until The End of The World.
As Roy Batty said, “If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes.” And now you can.
Autoencoding Blade Runner | Reconstructing films with artificial neural networks [medium/@Terrybroad]
A guy trained a machine to “watch” Blade Runner. Then things got seriously sci-fi. [vox]
Previously: The Until The End Of The World Is Nigh

EMPIRE ‘by Andy Warhol and John Palmer’

mekas_warhol_empire_premiere_flyer.jpg
Well this looks very nice. It’s an original flyer for the premiere of Andy Warhol’s film Empire, being sold by (or at least with the approval of) Jonas Mekas. It will be signed and shipped with a personalized letter of authentication. Which is a nice touch. Otherwise it’s not clear to me what the going rate is for such ephemera, whether $1,300 for an 8.5 x 11 handout is ripoff or a steal.
Empire was made on July 25, 1964, but didn’t premiere until March 6th, 1965. It was a Saturday, and the screening began at 8:30. [Does that mean it ran in real time? Not quite. Filming at 8:06 and ended at 2:42. Screening the film at 16fps draws it out to 8h5m.]
What’s interesting to me is the credit, “by Andy Warhol and John Palmer.” Palmer was an assistant to Jonas Mekas, and he is credited with the idea for Empire. [The 18yo had been using the Bolex his mom bought him to shoot the newly lit Empire State Building from the roof of Film Culture‘s offices on Park Avenue South.] Mekas pitched the project to Warhol and eventually helped run the camera, but it was Palmer who made the movie possible by securing the office in the Time-Life Building and the high-capacity camera needed to shoot nonstop for 6.5 hours.
Palmer’s early equal billing on Empire has not survived the Warholian glare. MoMA’s collection entry for Empire namechecks Mekas, but not Palmer; the film is credited solely to Warhol. It would be nice to straighten that out, History.
In her Screen Tests catalogue raisonné, Callie Angell wrote that Warhol “gave” Palmer co-director credit “because it was Palmer’s idea to make a film of the [newly] floodlit skyscraper, because Palmer worked on the film, and also because his mother, Mary Palmer, donated money to get the film out of the lab.”
john_palmer_screentest_253_angell.jpg
ST253, John Palmer, 1966, image: Screen Tests catalogue raisonné
He posed for Screen Tests along with his then-wife, Factory star Ivy Nicholson. Their daughter Penelope was three months old in 1966 when she became the only baby to sit for a Screen Test.
Though he went on to co-direct the tragicomic Edie Sedgwick film Ciao, Manhattan, Palmer’s subsequent IMDb credits are primarily as a camera operator. I wonder if there are stories to hear, or perhaps more uncirculated flyers to procure.
UPDATE: Oh, it always gets better. greg.org reader Terry Wilfong sent a heads up for Palmer’s interview with Steven Watson in Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties. They talked about making Empire, including the lab’s refusal to return the film without payment in full:

[Palmer] called Warhol from a phone booth. “Ohhh, John, I don’t have any money to pay for thaaaat,” he said. “It will just have to stay in the lab.” Palmer suggested he could try to get the $350 from his mother; if so, he would have to appear on the credits as codirector. The phone went silent for fifteen seconds, Palmer recalled, and then “Andy, in a voice I never heard and will never forget, said, ‘Now you’re learning.'”

very rare original World Premiere bill for Andy Warhol’s EMPIRE 1964 [ebay]