Memo to Gary Hill
Re: Your Show at Barbara Gladstone

The giant CGI animatronic eagle angrily flapping its wings and making power lines crack like bullwhips in multi-channel surround sound appeals on some goofy level, but the lake of crude oil you placed in front of it with the gold bullion in the center takes us into the realm of metaphor fatigue. Thanks for telling us via the press release that the piece was about the US occupation of the Middle East. The guard in the gallery barking at people when they get near the work is not too cool, though. Especially when it's a sheet of black, glassy-smooth oil in a semi-lit room that you might want to look at closely, if for no other reason than to see if it's as much like Noriyuki Haraguchi's work as it seems.

And if you must place telescopes around the space, you might want to aim them at something besides those custom gold coins of your grimacing face "undergoing fictive scenes of torture" that are placed on spotlit sculpture stands in the same room--it seems redundant, and not in a good way. Again, it's nice to have the press release handy to tell us that your installation, "through its use of the metaphor of market exchange, distances the true act of brutality, even when the acts of surveillance bring it so close the viewer's body." We're worried about the war, too, and thankful that a festival artist such as yourself has a big gallery to get the message out.

Update: Breaking: The real reason for the guard was that gold bullion--one of the ingots was just stolen from the Fondation Cartier version of this piece. See the comments to this post--thanks, James.

- tom moody 2-04-2007 10:40 pm

I saw this in Paris a few months ago and didn't like it either, although I did think the way he set up the highly directional sound on the telescope piece was kind of cool. Was it the same? Sort of like you had headphones on when you were looking through the telescopes, except there weren't any headphones. But that is just appealing to the audio geek in me. The vat of oil was producing some major fumes where I saw it. I felt bad for the guard who had to stand there all day - it couldn't be healthy.
- jim 2-04-2007 11:32 pm

I did like the headphoneless headphones but could have done without Hill (or whoever) doing glitchy rants that channeled militaristic slogans or whatever they were supposed to be.

For some reason I could not smell the oil. It made me suspicious that they used a non-toxic substitute and the guard was there to preserve the conspiracy.
- tom moody 2-05-2007 12:43 am

"headphoneless headphones" - could you tell if he used those speakers that turn the sound into really high frequencies/ultrasonics to make it directional or something else?? i remember some dude at mit brought them out in the 90s, really expensive at the time, and i've always wanted to see them used cos i think they're affordable now.
- p.d. (guest) 2-05-2007 2:55 am

I don't know--it was disc about a foot in diameter, several feet above your head, suspended from the ceiling. When you were directly under it the sound was fairly clear, but not strong, especially on a Sat. with noisy artgoers milling about.
- tom moody 2-05-2007 9:21 am

sounds like this:

- p.d. (guest) 2-05-2007 1:21 pm

I am always on the lookout for possible art space names. Fictive Scenes of Torture isn't bad.
- Bob Callaway (guest) 2-05-2007 2:22 pm

I would go to an art space named Angry Artgoers Milling About.
- jimlouis 2-05-2007 3:45 pm

When I saw it you couldn't see the speakers at all. And it was very loud/convincing when you had your head *exactly* in the right location. I couldn't even get a directional sense of where it was coming from - it really sounded like it was in my head. But it was totally silent in the gallery so that might account for the difference.
- jim 2-05-2007 5:47 pm

Wow! I guess *somebody* appreciates the work. This is from this morning's New York Times:

A 26-pound gold bar valued at $270,000 has been stolen from an installation by the American artist Gary Hill at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, Reuters reported. "Nothing like this has happened here before," a spokeswoman for the art center said, giving no further details of the theft, carried out overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. The ingot, hefted from a basin filled with black oil, was part of a work featuring a video projection of a giant eagle locked inside a pylon. The gold bar was inscribed: "for everything which is visible is a copy of that which is hidden."

- James Wagner (guest) 2-05-2007 9:18 pm

Thanks, James, for bringing a smile to my lips.
I'm stunned that Hill didn't have the good sense to gold plate the damned thing. Real gold? I wasn't focusing on it but ick. The limousine liberal puke factor of this piece just went off the chart.
Which brings up a point I left out of my post--that inscription was unreadable without wading through the oil or using a telescope--and there was no telescope in that room.
I'll say it in the comments because I don't want to make a bigger deal of this show--worst art of 2007, and the year is young.
- tom moody 2-05-2007 9:30 pm

I live only a few blocks away from the Fondation Cartier in Paris. I walked past the exhibition a few days ago and saw the Hill show thru the glass (didn't go in, way too expensive). I saw the installation of various telescopes focused on the ingot in the center of the installation. I assumed it was fake. I didn't know the ingot had an inscription. I guess now I'll have to go and take some photos since it is now a crime scene!

- dts (guest) 2-07-2007 1:28 am

May I make a minor suggestion: Leave the press releases behind and take responsibilty of being a witness of the work, it has nothing to do with the war per se at all. And while you are at it check the price of gold (as in currency) its about to go ballistic--like really off the charts WAKE UP! You may want to attend to that chip on your shoulder too before it gets any worse...

- anonymous (guest) 2-09-2007 1:31 am

I see--the piece isn't so much a comment on the war as a commodity futures report. You see Hill is a kind of market reporter. Interesting. Or are you saying he has Nostradamus-like powers and is sending us messages about coming calamities that we're somehow missing from the news?

I'm not sure how much more responsibility I can take than saying the pan of oil is derivative of another artist and that the telescopes were redundant, and not in a good way. Oh, yeah, the grimacing faces on the coins looked like the work of J. Seward Johnson--just really, really bad execution.
- tom moody 2-09-2007 2:16 am

POG 666 and going higher...I wonder why
- anonymous (guest) 2-09-2007 8:15 pm

Actually the pogs are only up to 144.
- tom moody 2-09-2007 8:29 pm

Could perhaps play a pretty good game of tiddily winks with those but thats about it...POG still ticking up now at 667.00
- anonymous (guest) 2-09-2007 8:47 pm

Oops, I fed the troll.
- tom moody 2-09-2007 9:09 pm