American video and installation artist. In 1969 he moved to Woodstock, NY, and began studying in New York at the Art Students' League. His early work was sculptural, but in the early 1970s he turned to audio and video, experimenting with imaging equipment and digital processing to create visual effects analogous to the appearance of abstract paintings. His sculptural background continued to play a part in his video installations; for his earliest video installation, Hole in the Wall (1974), he broke a hole through a wall of the Woodstock Artists' Association, placing on the other side a monitor that replayed his destructive action. In the late 1970s he became interested in the possibilities of combining images, sound and language. His work often makes specific literary references; Incidence of Catastrophe (1987–8), a colour video with stereo sound lasting just over 18 minutes, was directly inspired by Maurice Blanchot's existential novel Thomas l'obscur. Here Hill appears as a free interpretation of the character Thomas, naked, engulfed and eventually overcome by language. In Between Cinema and a Hard Place (1991; Seattle, Donald Young Gal.), a three-channel video installation with 23 modified video monitors and computer-controlled video switches, Hill used a passage from Heidegger's Unterwegs zur Sprache, metaphorically describing the relation between poetry and thinking; the many monitors, stripped of their casing, display images that roll across the screens and flicker on and off, interacting in a variety of ways with the rhythm and meaning of the spoken words.
Gary Hill: In Light of the Other (exh. cat., Oxford, MOMA, 1993)
T. Vischer, ed: Gary Hill: Imagining the Brain Closer than the Eyes (Basel, 1995)
10 December 2000