GARY HILL

Born in Santa Monica (United States), 1951
Lives & works in Seattle (United States)
Very active in: 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, Current decade


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Born in 1951 in Santa Monica Gary Hill is one of the pioneers in video art. He bases most of his work in the relation between text and electronic image

Hill studied sculpture and painting at the Arts Student League in Woodstock, New York in 1969, and has served as artist-in-residence at the Television Laboratory at WNET/Thirteen; Synapse Video Center, Syracuse, New York; Portable Channel, Rochester, New York; the Experimental Television Center, Owego, New York; Sony Corporation, Hon Atsugi, Japan; Chicago Art Institute; and California Institute of the Arts.

He began working with video, text and sound in 1973 and has produced a major body of single-channel videotapes and video installations that includes some of the most significant works in the field of video art.

He was influenced by the intellectual orientation of conceptual art which dominated art of the 1970s. His reading of the writings of Maurice Blanchot, in particular, provided him with ideas relating to the way in which language impinges on phenomenological experience, and a notion of 'the other' stemming from the philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas. Such reading informs Hill's visual-poetic explorations of the interrelationships between language, image, identity, and the body. In 1976 Hill met poet George Quasha who, along with Charles Stein, inspired Hill's first experiments with language.
Hill's body of work evolved into an ongoing deconstruction/reconstruction of ideas and images central to Western culture. These include apart of the notions of language and textuality also the concept of the body as an intermediary between nature and culture/technology. Processes of activation by which viewers become self-conscious participants in a work are an integral part of Hill's approach.

Hill's work thoroughly exploits the capacity of video to offer complex nonlinear narratives that encourage active engagement on the part of the viewer. He uses modern technology to create sculptures and environments that take the viewer on a ride through their mind, and he uses his body to create multilayered video installations in which language, speech, text, and image overlap and intersect.

His works have many layers, using all the trappings of modern technology, including software, hardware and mechanical devices. A typical exhibition often includes multiple monitors and rear projection technology with screens as large as 25 feet, sound and an interactive environment that is designed to bring the viewer into the experience.

The first tapes explored formal properties of the emerging medium, particularly through integral conjunctions of electronic visual and audio elements. This exploration would give way to thoroughly unique investigations of linguistics and consciousness offering resonant articulations of philosophical and poetic insights. For example in Cabin Fever he uses the binary opposition of light and darkness to convey the notion of an interaction between a self and an ?other?. Hill's early works investigated synthesized imagery, ecological subjects, and post-minimal political statements (Hole in the Wall, 1974). Hill's works exploring the intertextuality of image, sound, speech, and language emerged in the late 70s and early 80s, such as Soundings (1979) and Around and About (1980).

Since gaining recognition outside the United States in the mid -1970s, Hill has exhibited all over the world and has won several international art awards. Among his many grants and fellowships are awards from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, two Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. In 1984-85, he received a Japan/United States Exchange Fellowship, and in 1988, he received a France/United States Exchange Fellowship, completing major works in both countries. In 1998 Hill was awarded the prestigious McArthur Foundation Fellowship.

His installations and tapes have been seen throughout the world, in group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Documenta 8, Kassel, West Germany; Long Beach Museum of Art, California; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Video Sculpture Retrospective 1963-1989, Cologne, West Germany, among other festivals and institutions. Hill's work has also been the subject of retrospectives and one-person shows at The American Center, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; 2nd International Video Week, St. Gervais, Geneva; Musee d'Art Moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Copies of the works of Gary Hill can be purchased and rented for exhibition in EAI, Video Data Bank, Montevideo.