Mysterious Object (Performance #1), 1996
Gary Hill, George Quasha, Charles Stein, with Chie Hasegawa and Susan Quasha
Intermedia performance for color video projector and/or two color monitors, laserdisc player with remote control, laserdisc, laptop computer, digital video camcorder, manual video switcher, microphones, sound system, assorted objects, texts, and a low platform structure
At the invitation of Linda Weintraub, the sixty-minute performance took place on August 7, 1996, at the Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, New York, in its temporary tent facility. As audience members entered the performance tent, they were handed individual stones, prepared by Susan Quasha and Chie Hasegawa with tiny inscribed messages. A large selection of context-less objects was displayed on a low table on the stage where performers George Quasha, Charles Stein, Susan Quasha, and Chie Hasegawa sat. Gary Hill mixed live video and computer-generated images from a prepared laserdisc that could be manipulated for variable speed and direction of playback onto a screen in back of the performers. The computer images were simulations of some of the objects that were being manipulated by the performers—wrenches, stones, handles, and various other unidentifiable “parts.” This was intercut with projections of “axial poems” by George Quasha; these were short poem-like objects with internally enigmatic structures, that resonated with the enigmatic nature of the objects and gestures displayed and performed. Charles Stein performed a continuous sound-poetry improvisation throughout the event.
The work offered the audience three means to view the objects. First, they could observe the actual objects as they were manipulated by performers who “used” them in an improvised game of gestures, movements, sounds, and unconventional acts of naming. At the same time, the participants exchanged a live video camera amongst themselves, monitoring their activities that at times were seen on the projection screen. Projections of the computer-generated images provided a third access to the “mysterious objects.” The visual properties of the animations were black-and-white and generic in appearance. However, their identities were rendered strange by their being made to perform impossible things, such as morphing into slightly different objects or passing through each other’s geometry. Throughout this improvised performance, objects were taken on a journey through unaccustomed situations and definitions, questioning our given relationships to them.
Quasha, George and Charles Stein. An Art of Limina: Gary Hill’s Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa, 2009, p. 586.
Center for Performing Arts, Rhinebeck, New York, August 7, 1996.
Quasha, George and Charles Stein. Viewer. Gary Hill’s Projective Installations 3. Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Arts, 1997, p. 84.
Gary Hill: Selected Works and catalogue raisonné. Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2002, GHCR 97, p. 200.
Quasha, George and Charles Stein. An Art of Limina: Gary Hill’s Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa, 2009, pp. 209, 225, 281, 510 – 511, 586.