SELF ( ), 2016
Wall-mounted white acrylic sculpture, 2 color video cameras, electronics, and optics
Dimensions: see individual SELF entries
Complete set of five: Edition of two and one artist's proof
A set of enigmatic geometric objects is distributed on the wall; each is fitted with an objective tube and soft rubber eyepiece. It is evident they are meant to be looked into. The titles of the five works tell us something—SELF A continuing on alphabetically through SELF F with the exception of SELF E or in vernacular terminology, “selfie.” In the case of these selves—constructed from glossy white acrylic and looking something like sterile medical equipment—displayed images are other than the customary portraiture; there is something inherently sinister along with a slow erasure of expectation.
Differentiated from turning an empty gaze upon ourselves, our viewing acts are akin to approaching a series of looking-glasses—there is a certain amount of giddiness (not unlike when we pose inside an instance) as we might imagine a series of micro spectacles of some kind, perhaps a flea circus or a series of optical illusions. But over time and accumulated views of the veritable forms a disturbance sets in. A conflicting realization that the very intimacy of self (not the face that the gaze locks onto but the hair, flesh, and cloth that clothes it wherein the gaze is rather absorbed) is rendered as mere texture and that which we identify as “self,” our face and its expression, has disappeared.
In SELF A, the simplest of the set, depending on which eye takes precedence, there is but a vague notion of perhaps a side of a neck or the very corner of a mouth and cheek but nevertheless, our eyes butt up against abstract flesh. Almost instantaneously seeing and movement are linked—a live circuit is noted. We are being monitored and the peripheral space presently occluded from view wells up as soft paranoia. Our self is…not Easy. The double view of SELF B forces choice as the viewer is again confronted with different abstract fleshy images. The featureless forehead and throat vie for priority inside the eye/brain flip-flop. SELF C, an exploded frustum of sorts, necessarily suggests, a little more commitment to see again what is seen (and how). This time three images take their turns stamping the display one by one—somewhere on the side of the head, the top of the head, and somewhere on the other side of the head. The self continues its de-centering and further evaporation.
SELF D is formed by a cross with the four ends gently enfolding upon the viewer’s head. A faceless form is seen from cardinal vantage points sequentially relayed to the view hole. Gentle yet ominous ticking sounds emanate from the interior of the objects. Lastly (although SELVES are known to propagate) SELF F, a narrow rectangular form mirrors the human scale of a standing figure. Again a singular portal is witness to a plodding sequence of six images that run up and down the viewing viewer viewed—a self-made abstraction.
“Caméra(Auto)Contrôle,” Centre de la photographie, Geneva, Switzerland, January 29 — May 15, 2016.
“Dream Stop,” James Harris Gallery, Seattle, Washington, July 14 — August 26, 2016.
Beijing Media Art Biennale, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China, September 25 — October 9, 2016.
"Self Portrait," DNA Gallery, Berlin, Germany, September 29 — October 23, 2016.
Post-Screen Festival 2016, Millennium Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal, November 11, 2016 — March 11, 2017.
(SELF B, C, and F), "En marge," In Situ/Fabienne Leclerc, Paris, France, January 15 — March 19, 2017.
"Gary Hill: Always Rings Twice," WEST Den Haag, The Hague, Netherland, February 16 — May 13, 2018.
"Gary Hill: On the Outskirts," bitforms gallery, New York, May 17 — June 29, 2019.
"Gary Hill: Ghost Chance," Lia Rumma Gallery, Naples, October 20 — December 31, 2019.
"Gary Hill: Momentombs," Suwon Art Museum, Suwon, Korea, November 26, 2019 — March 6, 2020.