Black Mercury

by Dean Kyte



A short essay by Melbourne writer Dean Kyte in which he reminisces about an encounter with Andy Warhol’s monumental painting “Telephone [4]” (1962).

Watch the video essay on Vimeo:


I remember seeing the monumental black gallows of Andy Warhol’s “Telephone” many years ago. Like Louis Aragon, for whom the objects of modernity were transfigured by a kind of æsthetic frisson, Warhol seemed to have painted the platonic ‘Form’ of the telephone: the black Mercury who calls for us in the dead of night, the psychopomp bringing only bad news, upon whose line we hang, breathless.

As Aragon observed, what brings out the ominous symbolic shadowface cast by this homely object is cinematographic découpage and cadrage: ‘To endow with a poetic quality something which does not yet possess it, to wilfully restrict the field of vision so as to intensify its expression: these are the two properties which make décor the appropriate frame for modern beauty.’


released August 23, 2020
Dragnet: “The Big Barrette”
(CC 0)

HerbertBoland: “LargeStuckDoorHallway.wav”
(CC BY 3.0)

PatrickLieberkind: “Ambient » Dark Ambience”
(CC BY 3.0)

YleArkisto: “Luonto Nature » Puhelinlangat vonkuvat /
Telephone wires howling, humming in the wind.”
(CC BY 3.0)

yossarrian: “underwater”
(CC 0)


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Dean Kyte Melbourne, Australia

Dean Kyte is a writer, artist, filmmaker and flâneur.

He is the author of five books and two collections of short films.

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