Of imagined discourses in a glass menagerie

December 20, 2016 12:31 am | Updated 12:31 am IST - KOCHI:

Artist Gary Hill’s work, ‘Klein Bottle with the Image of its own Making’, at Durbar Hall in the city.  - PHOTO: S. ANANDAN

Artist Gary Hill’s work, ‘Klein Bottle with the Image of its own Making’, at Durbar Hall in the city. - PHOTO: S. ANANDAN

Broken shards of blown glass in various shapes and lengths are arranged on a rectangular table on the upstairs gallery of the Durbar Hall. The objects, you understand from the scribbling beneath, bear names like ‘specploit’, ‘erswif’ and ‘quaryc’ and you are lost.

Biennale artist Gary Hill, from Seattle in the U.S., has reproduced an old work of his — what has been named ‘Aloidia Piorm’, which examines the link between an object and its name. The work is “about the imaginative play through the text associated with each object, suggesting that the imagined discourse around the glass is opaque, make-believe and playful”.

It’s a game of wits that the artist is trying to engage the viewer with. For instance, the viewer would be lured into ascribing names to, say, a cylindrical glass tube, or something that resembles a bell jar, but there’s instant disappointment in store as the artist has named them completely differently, the names reading like cleverly-conceived drivel.

Electronic art

Known for most part as a video artist – Kochi Biennale Foundation president Bose Krishnamachari says he’s among the pioneers of ‘electronic art’— Mr. Hill, you would soon realise, is more of a language artist working around the contours of electronic art.

Another work of his that’s placed nearby is ‘Klein Bottle with the Image of its own Making (after Robert Morris)’, originally done in 2014. The work, taking after an audio installation done by Robert Morris in the 1960s, is an intermedia work comprising a glass trumpet like structure with a video projection inside.

Questioning viewers

It is creepy, and creates an unnerving theatrical effect, questioning the viewer’s idea of the ‘real’ and the ‘finite’. The image, without a ‘real’ shape, beginning or end, evokes the feeling that the projection resembling the bell of a trumpet emerges from a spherical opening on the pedestal on which the work is kept.

‘Dream Stop’, one of the latest works of the artist, envelops the gallery room and the visitor, creating almost a sense of surreal imagery about the surroundings and the viewer. Re-created specific-to-the site using some 31 video cameras with conical lenses and as many projectors, the synesthetic work of art that’s full with an aluminium sculpture unravels the dichotomies like the real and the imagined, normal and the surreal, inside and outside, and ordinary and dream-like.

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