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Gary Hill

Reflex Chamber

13 December 1996 – 1 February 1997


13 December 1996 – 1 February 1997

Gary Hill’s exhibition at White Cube Duke Street proposed seeing as a sensuous, phenomenological experience. The four-metre-square gallery space was transformed into something akin to the internal black box of a camera, or the chamber behind the eye. A series of images from a ten-minute video loop were carried on a square white table that occupied the centre of the space and acted as a horizontal projection surface, and the darkness was intermittently shot through with a pulsating light, and spoken words heard on a monologue soundtrack. The sequence of images are strangely evocative: a slow scan around the façade of an elegant town house, a partially-obstructed view through the window of a train, a still camera shot of the sea at night, grey waves in dark motion, a drab room, and the face of the artist appearing in close-up. When the projector switches off, an intense light flashes on and then strobes. The table top momentarily becomes a blinding pool that leaves a square green after-image on the retina, and a voice is heard speaking a series of seemingly disconnected, free-flowing thoughts such as: ‘Thoughts can’t help but mix. Suddenly I’m beside myself,’ and, ‘I’ve lived a series of images since when. It is precisely this ‘when’ that haunts.’

Reflex Chamber (1996), is an atmospheric and haunting work that invites the viewer to enter a secretive space to witness and meditate on the magical enactment of visual experience. The work suggests vision should be understood as a physical and temporal process that involves memory, mood and projection.

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