Screenings of single-channel video works by Gary Hill – Second Evening

The evening will include seminal videos from the 1970s and 1980s, when video was just b­ecoming an independent medium with which artists were experimenting in exciting ways. Hill’s early works used electronic effects to explore language, and he also used objects to push the limits of video itself.

Please join us for a rare opportunity to watch a body of works by this seminal video artist.

Entrance Fee: 10 Shekel

Evening Program:

Electronic Linguistic, 1977, 3:45 min.

In this very early piece, Hill explores the structural and organic interrelationship of linguistic and electronic phenomena. The work’s images appear as visualizations of electronically generated sounds. Through its construction of a language of electronic images and sound, this work prefigures later, more complex pieces.

Elements, 1978, 2:00 min.

One of the earlier works Hill produced on the Rutt/Etra video synthesizer, “Elements” combines abstract “landscapes” with fragmented syllabic language. Undulating topological forms superimpose themselves on one another, changing their shape and their direction of movement. One hears syllabic fragments of the words “earth,” “fire,” “water,” and “air” that, although abstract, give the work a rhythmic pulse that converges with the rhythm of the visual elements.

Primary, 1978, 1:40 min.

In “Primary,” the artist’s mouth fills the entire image plane, silently articulating the words “red,” “blue,” and “green” while the color of the screen switches from red to blue to green at an accelerating rate, cutting the words together into syllabic combinations that comprise an asynchronous sound track. The individual words, barely intelligible as spoken, are more easily “read” on the uniformly moving lips.

Full Circle, 1978, 3:25 min.

“Full Circle” tries to make manifest the perhaps irreconcilable space between the body as physical model and the body as conceptual model built upon ephemeral, yet also physical, media. The screen is divided into three representations of a circle: metal object, electronic circle, and a body shot that is a combination of the two.

Picture Story, 1979, 7:00 min.

“Picture Story” is a humorist, structural work that uses indeterminacy to forge an abstract landscape upon which the “vision” of an ox appears. A sequence of words—hierarchically ordered from the utilitarian (i.e. the functions and processes of the tools being used to make the piece) to the more abstract and conceptual “content,” “concept,” and “vision”—become the building blocks of a linguistic picture story. As each line is marked, a voice is heard saying one word. Over the duration of the piece, a description of a linguistic detail is given.

Processual Video, 1980, 11:30 min.

“Processual Video” is visually minimal, but complex in terms of the interplay of language and image. On a black screen, a white line slowly rotates on its axis, seemingly generating a spoken text that refers to itself. Depending on its position, the line gets narrower, then wider, finally dissipating horizontally into thin white strokes. Throughout the piece, Hill reads a text that triggers associations and wordplays with the precise position and detail of the continuously changing line. As the first-person narrator, he describes various places: snow-covered mountains, the sea, an airport, and various processes and actions that refer reflexively to himself, the reader, and to a viewer.

Meditations (Towards a Remake of Soundings), 1979/1986, 4:17 min.

Of this work, Hill claims: “I wanted to extend the reflexivity of each text in relation to the interaction between different physical substance—in this case, sand—and the speaker cone. Every nuance of speech vibrates the speaker’s cone (or membrane), bouncing the grains of sand into the air. The more I speak about what is happening, the more it changes—or feeds back intothe movement and patterns of the sand. The hand allows more and more sand to trickle onto the loudspeaker until the cone is no longer visible. The timbre of the voice crackles and is radically muffled.”

Figuring Grounds, 1985/2008, 7:19 min.

Facing one another, two figures begin vocalizing sounds that seem to be from the very foundation of language, and the improvisational search for voices passes through recognizable swarms of phonemes, with a possible word or phrase briefly becoming comprehensible now and then. Camera movements and continual focal play mirror the highly nuanced vocal expression, tightly coupled with body and facial movements. The voices build upon one another, rising and falling in volume and pitch, sometimes in unison, other times in “conversation,” in a seeming attempt to let the primary roots of language speak for themselves.

Why Do Things Get in a Muddle (Come on Petunia), 1984, 32:00 min.

“Why Do Things Get in a Muddle?” is the first of Hill’s works for which he deliberately wrote a screenplay. The title defines the piece’s starting point: Alice in Wonderland asks her omniscient father why things get in a muddle, and so starts a metalinguistic conversation about language using language. A glimpse through the looking glass reveals an inversion of the customary order of things. Gradually the reason for these phenomena becomes clear: Almost all the passages are being played and spoken backwards, and the tape can likewise be played backwards, with the result that, at first glance, the action appears plausible. This also explains why at second glance the movements of the protagonists bodies look strangely mechanical. Hill made phonetic notes of the texts spoken backwards by Alice and her father. At the end of the tape, when Alice is standing in front of the looking glass, the letters of the subtitle, “Come on Petunia,” regroup as “Once Upon a Time.”

English, without subtitles.

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