Andy Warhola’s Living Room

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As part of a series of exhibits for emerging artists at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, titled “Exposures”, I was invited by museum curator Eric Shiner to design an exhibit for the front windows of the museum.


Notably, Warhol (whose original family name was in fact “Warhola”) had begun his career as an artist by designing the front window displays of Hornes Department stores in Pittsburgh and later, New York.


I drew inspiration from Warhol’s history to create Andy Warhola’s Living Room, a 3D recreation of Andy Warhol’s “memory” of his childhood home, digitally fabricated and spatially reformatted on the facade of his Museum.


I was invited by the Warhol archives to replicate rarely seen photographs from Warhol’s childhood. I also received assistance from Donald Warhola, a consultant on the Warhol estate, one of Andy’s last remaining relatives, who described his own memories of the original Warhola home.

As an undergraduate art school student, Warhol drew a “memory” of his childhood home in Pittsburgh, PA. The resulting pastel drawing, “Living Room”, served as the inspiration for the installation- to re-render Warhol’s 2D representation through contemporary digital fabrication.


From Warhol’s translation of the physical original of his home to his interpretation in pastel representation, I converted the medium of pastel drawing into computer-generated sculpture- pulling objects from their two-dimensional flattening, back into the 3D structure of reality.
Conceptually, I was inspired by Jaron Lanier’s concept of a “digital object”: “The definition of a digital object is based on assumptions of what aspects of it will turn out to be important. It will be a flat, mute nothing, if you ask something
of it that exceeds those expectations. If you didn’t specify the weight of a digital painting in the original definition, it isn’t just weightless, it is less than weightless... What makes something fully real is that it is impossible to represent it to completion”. (Lanier, Jaron, “You Are Not a Gadget).

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Andy Warhol, Living Room, 1948, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh PA

Left to Right: Facsimile photographs of young Andy Warhola, a 3D mockup architectural design from the proposal, the final center window display, featuring animation.

 

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Andy Warhola’s Living Room, 2015

 

Installation in the front windows of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh PA. Seven CNC routed 3D reliefs (foam, aluminum paint, steel supports, silver paint), assorted real furniture found on Craigslist from a local Pittsburgh estate sale, large yellow dyed cloth curtains, three television sets (from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s), featuring a digital animation derived from Warhol’s childhood home extruded as a three-dimensional landscape, assorted knick-knacks and tchotchkes.

From 2D Image to 3D Structure

Using a high-resolution version of the painting, I applied a computer vision algorithm of “feature recognition” to isolate the furniture from the environment.


Each shape was transformed into a
three-dimensional object- the 2D shape extruded with software based on a depth map generated from the light and dark values in the original image.

From Data to Sculpture

Using a CNC router, each part was 3D fabricated by extruding reliefs into foam, producing strangely dimensional objects, representative of the illusory perspective used in the original rendering.


Afterwards, each sculpture was painted in the iconic silver of Warhol’s notorious “Silver Factory”.

Installation & Context

Each sculpture was arranged in the layout of the image in the front windows of the Warhol Museum (also, with real curtains!)


The depth map from the original image was used to create an interactive animated video feed. The animation was featured on three televisions, showing a virtual tour of the 3D data extruded from the original drawing.