Gary Hill
USA, 1951
In 1969 Gary Hill moved to Woodstock in upstate New York, which had become an important gathering place for those involved in the counterculture. There he attended some classes at the Art Students League and made steel sculptures that incorporated sound. His first encounter with the video format came in 1973 when he borrowed a camera from Woodstock Community Video. The discovery was a momentous one for the artist. Over the following years, he experimented with what would become the building blocks of his language, investigating the potential of video as a means of recording the passage of time, and producing several works in which he explored video installation (Hole in the Wall, 1974). During the second half of the 1970s, stimulated by contact with the poets George Quasha and Charles Stein and the musical work of La Monte Young, he started to focus on the relationship between images, sound, words and their meanings. His works eventually became a new form of language that reflects on language itself. This was the point of departure for Hill’s output in the 1980s, when he became one of the leading figures in video art. In 1984–1985 he lived in Japan, where he produced URA ARU (the backside exists). In 1988 he created Incidence of Catastrophe, his first work inspired by the writings of Maurice Blanchot. The French philosopher’s theories, together with those of Martin Heidegger, played a crucial role in shaping all his subsequent output. From this point on Hill’s work gradually became more visually complex thanks to the use of computers and other technological equipment. The artist has never viewed these tools as an end in themselves, but rather as a way of experimenting with non-linear deconstruction of narrative and encouraging active engagement on the part of the viewer. For example, in Suspension of Disbelief (for Marine) (1991–1992), he uses thirty monitors that show fragments of images of the human body in rapid succession. Gary Hill is an artist who has had a huge impact on generations of creators, and his works have continued to break new ground in their exploration of technology and ideas. Since 1985 he has lived in Seattle.
Ferran Barenblit