War Zone, 1980
Mixed media installation
Two 27-inch black-and-white video monitors, two black-and-white cameras modified to a stereo camera, headphones, sixteen bare 3-inch speakers, two motorized spotlights, push broom, wooden ladder, low triangular dolly, film projection screen (wall mounted or free standing), vertical mirror (approx. 48 x 18 in. [122 x 46 cm.] with no frame), rope, wooden housing (approx. 24 x 24 x 36 in. [61 x 61 x 91 cm.] and with the word “fragile” stenciled on the outside of the structure), water bowl, food bowl, wooden plank, live white rabbit, wire mesh, wood, pink fiberglass insulation, chicken wire, sixteen-channel audio sampler with sixteen independent outputs, controlling electronics, video switcher, two-channel synchronizer, two laserdisc players and two laserdiscs (black-and-white; stereo sound)
Edition of two and one artist’s proof
A large space is divided in two by a two-foot high wire mesh fence supported by wooden trestles. The two spaces represent “inside/outside,” with the outside space empty except for two 27-inch black-and-white monitors which appear to be “monitoring” the inside space (the monitors actually show pre-recorded images of the space). Approaching the inside space, entered by a small gate in the fence, one can hear a dense whispering sound, a kind of modulated white noise out of which words emerge and are quickly washed out by other words. The composite sound consists of sixteen audio loops. Each loop is a single word or phrase repeated over and over, naming an object or detail of the space. They are heard through small 3-inch bare speakers that are placed on or near the object/detail being identified. (For example: floorboards, light fixtures, moldings, nails, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, etc. might be named, as well as selected objects: ladder, dolly, mirror, film screen, safety housing structure, a bowl of water, a broom, etc.)
Additionally, in the inside space are two cameras with 1-inch monitor/viewfinders with magnifying eyepieces. The cameras are fastened together like binoculars and are encased in aluminum, creating a single stereo viewing apparatus that is mounted on a tripod. The tripod/camera can be manipulated in any direction to “shoot” the objects/locations in the space. The binocular viewfinders switch between monitoring the cameras and two edited video streams. The switching happens sometimes in unison and sometimes independently. The videos are computer-generated renderings of the objects/locations as seen from the point of view of a rabbit that lives in the space. (The first time the work was exhibited, the images were recorded with a camera from its location in the space.) A stereo soundtrack of machine gunfire acts as the score for the edit of the two videotapes. A single gunshot in the left channel corresponds to an edit from one image to another in the left monitor of the “binoculars” and the same goes for the right. If the shot is heard in both channels, both images change simultaneously though they may or may not be the same image. Sometimes the images change rapidly (repeated machine gunfire). The sound is heard through headphones by a single viewer while operating the stereo camera. Other sounds of bomb explosions are heard on speakers within the space. These irregular sounds act as the score for switching either live or prerecorded images in either channel of the viewfinders. Two heavy-duty directional spotlights pan back and forth from opposite ends of the fence in an otherwise darkened space. A live white rabbit lives in the space for the duration of the exhibition.
An example of this work was first exhibited in a solo exhibition at Media Study/Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, May 3 – 18, 1980.
London Video Arts, London, England, December 8, 1983. (Note: This exhibition included a documentary videotape of the installation only.)
Solo screening. International Cultural Center, Antwerp, Belgium, December 9, 1983. (Note: This exhibition included a documentary videotape of the installation only.)
Gary Hill: Sites Recited, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California, December 3, 1993 – February 20, 1994.
Hill, Gary. “Exhibition: Gary Hill: Opening of War Zone – A Video Installation and Presentation of New Videotapes.” Media Study/Buffalo (January/May 1980), p. 10.
Oeuvres vidéo de Gary Hill en sa présence. Center for Media Art. Program notes. Paris: American Center, 1983, unpaginated.
Furlong, Lucinda. “A Manner of Speaking: An Interview with Gary Hill.” Afterimage 10, 8 (March 1983), pp. 14, 15.
Van Assche, Christine. “Gary Hill: The Imager of Disaster. Interview with Gary Hill.” Galeries Magazine (December 1990/January 1991), p. 77.
Sarrazin, Stephen. Chimaera Monographe No. 10 (Gary Hill). Montbéliard, France: Centre International de Création Vidéo Montbéliard, Belfort, 1992, p. 39.
Van Assche, Christine. Gary Hill. Paris: Editions du Centre Georges Pompidou, 1992, pp. 9, 55, 81, 83, 87. (Including an excerpt from Gary Hill, “Inter-view”).
Gary Hill: Sites Recited. Long Beach, California: Long Beach Museum of Art, 1993, p. 24.
Van Assche, Christine and Corinne Diserens. Gary Hill. Valencia: Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM), Centre del Carme, 1993, pp. 13, 59, 85, 87, 91. (Including an excerpt from Gary Hill, “Inter-view”).
Mignot, Dorine. Gary Hill. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum; Vienna: Kunsthalle Wien, 1993, pp. 14, 42. (Including an excerpt from Gary Hill, “Inter-view”).
Willis, Holly. “The Unknown That Knows Where the Hole in the Mind Resides: Installations and Videos by Gary Hill at the Long Beach Museum of Art.” Video Networks, San Francisco (February/March 1994), p. 20.
Duncan, Michael. “In Plato’s electronic cave.” Art in America 83, 6 (June 1995), pp. 70, 72.
“Liminal Performance: Gary Hill in Conversation with George Quasha and Charles Stein,” PAJ (Performing Arts Journal) No. 58, Vol. XX, No. 1 (January 1998), pp. 3, 5, 6, 8.
TV Dinner No. 2 at The Kitchen: Gary Hill and Meg Stuart. Program notes. New York: The Kitchen, 1998, unpaginated.
Morgan, Robert C., ed. Gary Hill. Baltimore: PAJ Books / The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, pp. 199 – 200, 245, 247, 248, 292.
Gary Hill en Argentina: textos, ensayos, dialogos. Buenos Aires: Centro Cultural Recoleta, 2000, pp. 29, 30, 31.
Gary Hill: Instalaciones. Córdoba: Ediciones Museo Caraffa, 2000, pp. 14, 35, 37, 38, 55.
Quasha, George and Charles Stein. La performance elle-même in Gary Hill: Around & About: A Performative View. Paris: Éditions du Regard, 2001, pp. 14, 15, 45, 47 – 49.
Gary Hill: Selected Works and catalogue raisonné. Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2002, GHCR 41, pp. 93, 94.
Odin, Paul-Emmanuel. L’absence de livre [Gary Hill et Maurice Blanchot – Écriture, vidéo]. Marseille: La Compagnie, 2007, p. 154.
Quasha, George and Charles Stein. An Art of Limina: Gary Hill’s Works and Writings. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa, 2009, pp. 24, 281, 420, 432, 433, 437, 460, 463, 464, 598, 624, 641.
Words repeatedly whispered from each speaker: