Andrew Taylor


There’s no I in a photograph – Andrew Duncan

long days are shortening
impending September
cloud piled like cushions – bands

two aircraft same path yet apart
a third later slower a descent?
the sound of the refrigerator
a domestic soundtrack click of 
coffee machine

cloud shift three distinct bands 
now last of proper light on east 
side hint of artificial light from 
main tier radio mast like a syringe

a higher plane slower passing through?
within 10 minutes buildings are turning
more pronounced only in silhouette
the water tower before Whiteread 
thought to cast in resin

bands of cloud shift again
more aircraft

lean forward in the seat to write 
more comfortably

bands turn to slight swirls

what are the bubbles in hot drinks
tea or coffee called after stirring?

sudden shift in film was it the exposure
being played with in 1964?

sky looks dusk-like now
the tiers are more pronounced

if this view was replicated today
would the space around be filled
like some kind of video game?

mode of delivery HD copy on
a square screen in rural France
a far cry from the premiere in NYC
2nd cup of coffee (which is actually 

6 cups according to the machine)

how does improvised writing compare
to improvised painting or piano music?
aircraft still descend behind the tower
46 seconds of improvised piano 

starts the day in this house as the sun
fills the room 

the spire is lit with three dots a light 
aircraft passed by (here) to a lack of 

aircraft on the screen 
one appears lower altitude the sound
sounds wrong – a gentle fade

office window lights appear lit
what was the temperature that night?

passing plane L-R a determined trajectory
it seems to be getting darker 

the pronounced lighting of the tiers & spire
starting to stand out against the grey of the sky

a shake of the camera  - this is real

Mekas set the camera plumb perfectly framed

the office windows on the other buildings
are now becoming visible as well as being
more pronounced on the ESB

central band of sky seems to be getting
softer halving the frame almost lining 
up with the top tiers of the building

a plane R-L

two large billboards appear lit on the building
on the left offices on the first tier visible

a camera flash from the viewing platform
then a trigger of flashes
how far do they think that the flash will reach?

to the Rockefeller Centre?

that passage to the platform
in speeding express elevators
guarded by a person in uniform

there’s something about the ticket stub too

the warning light on the spire
begins to flash beneath it are static lights

every building aside from the water tower
shows signs of habitation

another plane its lights flashing

a second string of lights appears 
on the tower beneath the mast

they were probably already there
but the looming darkness brings
them out 

strangely therapeutic

coffee is going cold

microlight providing the soundtrack
as a low altitude plane flies R-L
pitched perfectly against the fade

flashing lights in the building on the left
uniform how long will they beat?

almost totally dark now
a blue blackness to the cloud
it’s all black and white though

still the rumble of the refrigerator
still the flash bulbs from the viewing platform
still offices are lit

the water tower is just about visible

a Sunday meditation on time

notebook pages filling in real time (10.58 a.m.)
15 to get to almost complete darkness
only the light on the spire remains visible
the spire itself subsumed into the black

the strange comfort of glancing at the building
on the left & seeing those 3 lights flashing in unison

hand is beginning to ache

the water tower has all but disappeared 
two rapid flashes from the same camera

a microlight flies over
no aircraft on the screen
a random French soundtrack

the water tower has disappeared

aside from the flashes
it seems quiet
it is quiet 
it is silent

what soundtrack did the premiere audience give it 
as they left in disgust in 1965? attacking Mekas &
wanting their money back lots left after an hour

$2 entry fee                                                            				(comfort)

3 of the offices in the lower tier 
have been vacated

low altitude plane

rice is a great food cold for breakfast 
after cooking a pot 2 days earlier

“they go fast get a spare”
Kelloggs getting people to buy more
than they need
vintage plate Rockwell’s illustrations

a jet overhead in real time
too late for the USA to Italy

bio orange juice really does
taste better

there are still people on the viewing deck
the flash of their cameras pulse into the black
the sun streams through the canopy
covers the table and slowly fades

is the house this quiet when it’s shuttered
& closed up?

it feels like Sunday

you can only tell the shape 
of the building by the framing
of the lit top tiers

the odd office light provides
a rough outline another plane
passes another office is lit

a burst of flashes

a slow plane L-R low

are people taking photos of each other
trying to capture the skyline?

a plane emerges from behind the tower

walking the avenue from the village
north was exhilarating strolling
which was the best way

one Sunday there was a flea market
on a vacant lot this was pre-car boot 
sales & was a revelation

people really did sell their rubbish

another time drinking cold beer
at a bar at the foot of the building

that was when the city was cheap
imagine how cheap it must have been 
when the camera was pointing at a lit
ESB in 1964 

Andy couldn’t afford to develop
the film though

how did Mekas get by?

the sound of breathing
window is closed                                                                                           						(11.42 a.m.)

Writing longhand is a different experience to typing it seems fitting the notebook paper is good quality 
of course writing through stuff means you have to take eyes off the screen not that there is that much 
different to see from the last time you stare into it the quietness helps somehow it helps get the pen moving

the office lights form a crescent 
moon with Venus to the right

scratches on the barrel of the pen
make it even more personal 

the skip plundered rug feels
good underfoot

does the eye get drawn automatically
to the centre or is other stuff happening
left & right just as interesting?

shift in the seat

taking time to just look 
at the central image
opens up the finer details
such as the slowing pace
of flashes & extra offices 
being lit & others turning dark

an aching hand a rest

there is always movement
this is not as static as you might think

it’s like day (night) dreaming
it’s tranquil

a light goes out     time for home?

as the film was slowed down it’s hard to gauge
the time in reality

it does feel like somebody 
(lots are) is working late

the crescent shape is changing

what would have been the optimum time?
1964 or later ’66 ’67?
the turn from the 1950s to the 1960s?
what locale? the cheapest time to do 
the things you wanted to do
earn some cash go to see films
go to readings see gigs just walk
around midtown waiting for the 
papers to hit the newsstands

two lights remain of the lower tier
upper left

nothing is ever still nothing is ever silent

a plane flies across L-R

the low cloud gives a warmth
to the darkness 
combined with the slowing
of the film	                                                                                          					(comfort)

immersed in this

an inevitable slowing down
3 years before arrival

strange city sounds like the police sirens
in Bad Timing

that seems appropriate

uplighters on the tiers
stronger & more obvious

is it worth noting the aircraft?

what would be the ideal soundtrack?
improvised or scored piano?

improvisation often frowned upon

no idea but in things

like time & a static though not static
shot of a building in NYC in the mid-1960s

giving oneself over to time
to create is a luxury yes
but one that costs very little
in the grand scheme of things

setting up a recording of a piano
in a Brooklyn church & going with
it will yield results

square       circle      triangle

no that’s not the sound of rain
just the sound of the leaves rustling

an empty line                                                                                           						(12.46)

to stare at something long enough
is like walking across a meadow
back & forth repeatedly to leave
a line

that is the sound of rain

the scent of hot smoky Earl Grey
is a comfort 
two pencils two pens
an empty orange juice glass
a mug two labels an empty
medication packet a post-it note
in the middle of it all a screen 
filled with a non-static image

imaging the urge to pan
not for gold but the Auricon
(each reel lasting 33 minutes
they’d be on the 9th by now)                                                            				(call)

light clumped right
crescent shift 
intermittent flash
XTC 7” sleeve Towers of London

it’s dark & darker
shadows fall 
triangles of light
top tier glamour
below the mast

it’s kicking in now

only lights either side 
of the central image
hint at buildings

state of permanence 
this building
in-situ 56 years on
do the others that surround
in this film?

humans are making the movements
visible like in the village lights that 
turn off at 11.00 p.m. weekdays midnight

signs of life amidst the static are most welcome

telephones like the payphone
in the factory are as welcome
in the 21st century 
it’s something to do with the human voice
rather like the office light viewed from the
distance it’s proof of existence as is electricity

platform beneath the mast lit 
like a pedestal puts into mind
for some reason
Marilyn & Billy Wilder
perhaps it’s stature & iconography

grain of film despite this being 
the HD version the warmth of
the grain is obvious HD grain

less lights in the tower now
no recognisable pattern 
trio of lights turn on in a row
same floor
perhaps a party or late night meeting
somebody returning after an evening
out bedding down like Frank Quietly
in Glasgow
4 hours are better than none
wake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee
an instant lifting of the spirits after sleep

still the odd camera flash
less frequent now
the lights on the deck are on 
less movement

air rights before the WTC
would this have been the target?

a turn of the page

signs on the east side
less occupancy though

where’s the manual?
the box can be discarded
there isn’t a manual for watching an 8 hour silent film

flash on the east side
traffic on the river to focus on
upward spots of light
like the Wordsworthian notion 
of spots of time

this is one long spot of time slowed & considered

not seen a plane
for a while

the rain has passed
quiet again
it’s probably not been raining
for hours

little movement save for the tip
of the antenna & the trio of lights
bottom left

pace of things despite the bustle 
of the mid-60’s I bet it was still slower
than today

All the News that’s Fit to Print

more all the news that’s available in a click
superhighway like the express elevator

need = supply = time
if scored this could be a melancholic refrain

perhaps it would’ve been best to have done
this in as real time as possible
8.06 p.m. – 2.42 a.m. but the film is slowed

at this point there is just over 3 hours
left to view

maybe the viewing deck has been cleared
no – there’s just been a flash 
& another

a sense of expectation

waiting for something
the angle is interesting it does capture 2 sides of the building the left-hand side
is at an angle the near side is more full-on

less happening in the corners

what would they have brought?
voices & discussions
glances & eating
did they look away from the view
that was being filmed?

who was first to visit the bathroom?
what did Mekas’s girlfriend make of it?
did Gerard write some poems?

writing through can be physically tiring 
as well as mentally challenging 
akin to being on the 41st floor that night
for 6 ½ hours
making things new

allowing what’s already there to be brought
into sharper focus
the everyday isn’t mundane
it is magical
stop & think about what is
around us when we look out 
of the window
(if we have a window) it’s obviously
not always perfect

wear a mask
Coca-Cola goût original  same formula as the bottles printed in the 1960s refreshing & uplifting a light lunch garlic paté on crackers fizz of carbonated beverage being poured into a glass with Paddy Irish whiskey branding on it how to practice furniture writing perhaps follow the mode of furniture filmmaking such as this is this the equivalent? a plane then another pass by the whirr of a solid state computer drive this as riley would state is an art additions to the workspace 3 glasses 1 mug & a plate the drive has quietened first plane synced with a plane going overhead – impressive timing!                                                             (15.05) still flash bulbs are going off the sound of bamboo chimes through an opened window was that a reflection or a dip in the film quality? still flashes appear from the deck albeit at a slower rate post-lunch slump despite the caffeinated cold drink good job this isn’t being screened in a cinema oblivious to the goings on in the wider world shouldn’t that kind of be the point of Sundays? there is only 1 supermarket open on a Sunday 8-1 the queue is usually long outside the boulangerie the temptation to rewind did that light go out & back on again or did it just stay on? it’s odd looking at image(s) of night when it’s 3.20 in the afternoon bottom right where the water tank was (is) is like looking across a bay to land pockets of light at a distance bottom left still shows the pulse of the trio of lights but there is less from the building itself a random large flash from the deck not a case of poetry of the everyday but poetry born out of the extraordinary experience this is not a regular Sunday more floors seem occupied not a scattering of lights on but more in clusters not like looking at the stars from the courtyard on a clear night when the scale of things really does become apparent red of the can stands out there’s a sheen to it (just over 2 to go) refrigeration hum from the kitchen the daily papers would be readying to go to print the early editions at least ready for dispatch across the five boroughs & the local drops in the city all night diners in view of the building would be serving coffee & post-bar food patrol cars on the odd corner the San Remo would possibly be in full swing ideally a starting or ending point stare at a certain point fixate deliberate the next line will come the pace immaterial there is always time have they closed the deck? almost reach for the rewind your battery is running low you may wish to plug in the red light is lit gaps appearing between lines this is not a prose poem they have probably cleared the deck elevators loaded why not the flat iron? the scene where Jimmy & Kim & he throws his hat from the roof on Christmas morning into the snow! it’s about perspectives & framing not the obsession with word counts a day is wasted if there is a preoccupation with numbers move the box keep the manual fallen vine stalk in the gap between tiles notification                                                                                            (comfort) instant coffee has a unique aroma no planes the eye fixes on the most lit part of the frame it is drawn to light as it notices also when something is switched off it is easy to lose yourself in deliberation & the sound of your own breath searching for life on that deck underneath it is obvious that rooms are occupied or did somebody just leave a light on? a plane! passing through aside from the four lights blinking at times it does feel static a close up: 44 windows lit 41 windows lit miscount? the quiet broken by the noise of the breeze that makes its way through the slightly opened window by writing through full attention is not given to the film on the screen by taking a comfort break the gaze is also broken & the page isn’t being filled This medicine may make you sleepy if this happens do not drive or use tools or machines do not drink alcohol 45 windows lit the observation deck is not closed architecture that is built to last is a wonder as long as fastidious councils behave themselves the sad loss of F.A.T.’s Pavilion in Liverpool comes to mind or will alsop’s 4th grace ‘the cloud’ that was laughed at that is the sound of rain that slows to quiet to pick up again fixate on a window to see if the light within goes out this one is on the left possibly the west facing side it seems to have been lit for a while certainly since the sun went down it’s bright shift focus a yellow wall beyond the screen a postcard of ‘sunflowers’ ‘The Entry of Christ into Liverpool’ en Marx & the authors of Lowdeine Chronicles two Parisian cats nature makes its music in the dead of night creatures roam & seek the grapes tempted to count the lit windows when the red light goes off the power can be disconnected one last line on p.61 to fill under the hour a new page settled in allowing the day to do its thing the crows to make their racket                                                                                           (notification) at 18 frames per second a projected screeningof the film would end about now 7 hours and 10 minutes (my version has another 49 minutes & 44 seconds to run) what would be the point of the 46 minute edit? a plane a light in an office turns on (home safe & dry) ‘Jacqueline’ by Durutti Column playing somewhere or it should be cold coffee tastes better than cold tea (notification) The New York Times tired eyes means that certain office lights appear to be flickering they are not rain on the Velux taps a tune                                                              (7h32) the image turns dark after 7hrs 32 minutes the image looks like a partially decorated Christmas tree the plinth to the radio mast remains lit this feels climactic like the crystal ball at the Floyd gig at Earls Court gig in 1994 opening during the solo in ‘Comfortably Numb’ there was an expectation of cheering the invite shows a still a light to the right of the building can only be the blurred light of a plane difficult there is still light within machinery will still be working the guards will still be walking the front doors locked fast plane 55 windows lit fading in fading out are we near to the final reel? we are on the final reel
a writing through of Andy Warhol and John Palmer’s 1964 film Empire. written between 9.45 a.m. and 5.45 p.m. on Sunday 30th August 2020 during a screening of Empire. Andrew Taylor has published two collections with Shearsman Books, and is currently working on his third. His latest publications are Lowdeine Chronicles (with Nick Power) and at first it felt like flying (with Charlie Baylis). He is the author of Adrian Henri: A Critical Reading (London: Greenwich Exchange). www.andrewtaylorpoetry.com.    
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home