Gary Hill

By Vogel, Sabine B. | Artforum International, November 1993 | Go to article overview
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Gary Hill


Vogel, Sabine B., Artforum International


At the last Documenta, Gary Hill's installation was one of the few works that appealed to a wide audience. In a long, narrow space, figures moving toward the viewer were projected with the slow, sometimes halting movement of people of various ages. Hill adressed the question of perception in two ways: the viewer saw himself confronted with his own activity (passing by images); and in going toward the exit, after his eyes were accustomed to the darkness, the other people in the space also became part of the work. The equipment also played a dual role: on the one hand video screens projected images, on the other they illuminated objects in their midst. In Hill's work technology is almost always concealed or transformed into sculptural objects and is simultaneously the light source and the origin of the images.

I Believe It Is an Image in Light of the Other, 1991--92, consisted of seven tubes hanging from the ceiling, into which video screens had been installed. The projection (and therefore the light) fell onto open books so brightly that one could speak of "recognition." But the books were props, turned around, opened, stacked, but blank. They became surfaces for the projection of a slowly turning naked body, (unreadable) text, and a chair that started off being minute and, through computer animation, increased in size. Another projection was very literal: it showed a mouth being touched by fingers. The association to lanaguage was clear: the image of the body evoked textual bodies and the chair a place to read, yet, for Hill, language, alphabet, book, image all exclude readability. Finally, Hill seems more interested in the visual than the written.

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