The world is celebrating Andy Warhol’s 85th
birthday in an unusual way this week, through the lens of a webcam pointed at his grave.
Warhol would certainly have approved, said his nephew Donald Warhola who was on hand for the cake-cutting at the grave on Tuesday, Warhol's actual birthday. Had Andy thought of it, he added, he would have certainly filmed Marilyn Monroe's or Elvis Presley’s gravesites.
New York City-based EarthCam
began streaming high definition, 16-megapixal images of the gravestone just after midnight on Aug. 6. The cameras are mounted high on a telephone pole about 20 feet away.
The video updates every 15 minutes, a nod to Warhol's belief that, in the future, everybody will be world famous for about that long.
By mid-afternoon on Warhol's birthday, the hillside cemetery, which overlooks the intersection of Connor and Library roads in Castle Shannon, buzzed with well-wishers including New Yorkers, a priest and staff members from the Andy Warhol Museum.
The Figment project is a partnership of The Andy Warhol Museum and EarthCam. It pulled its name from a quote in which Warhol said, "I always thought I'd like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph and no name. Well, actually, I'd like it to say, 'Figment.'"
The museum's website was slammed with a record number of hits on Tuesday, said Joshua Jeffrey, information technologist for the museum. EarthCam's Warhol website is expected to go viral as well, he added.
The interactive multimedia project hopes to capture Warhol's life from a Pittsburgh perspective. In addition to the gravesite, another webcam is streaming services from St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church in Greenfield, the Warhola family church where Warhol was baptized.
New Yorker Brian Cury, a lifelong fan of Andy Warhol fan, founded EarthCam in part through an enlightening conversation he once had with the artist. Cury met Warhol at a dinner party and they spoke of the strangeness of world-wide fame.
“Years later when I was looking for business ideas, I always went back to the conversation I had with Andy,” says Cury. “In a way, this is an extension of what Andy was doing with video and film, letting the video run constantly until he had no more tape.”
Figment will continue indefinitely for now, he says.
The Earthcam network has captured footage from far flung places like Instanbul and Abby Road and receives upward of 35 million views a year.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Brian Cury, Donald Warhola