Mediations (Excerpt from a Remake of Soundings), 1979 - 1986

NTSC, sound, colour

Gary Hill uses the same device in Mediations as Hollis Frampton in Nostalgia. In its own way the video is, then, an extension of certain elements of research work of the experimental cinema. It is not, however, a photograph burning on an electrical element that we see in the middle of the picture, it is a loud speaker.
The principle of the film is as follows: Gary Hill describes what is happening as his hand gradually covers the loud speaker with sand. There is, however, an initial complication: the situation only appears to be simple. The words that are emerging from the loud speaker, that we can see vibrate, have several functions: they enable us to see they are being uttered, producing a trembling motion of the sand on the sound membrane. Since they want to relate events and as they are already events in themselves, the words never manage to say just what they say without gradually modifying what they are attempting to understand. Intervals separate them from all sides. And Gary Hill, with his plays on words and chiasmus constantly loses us. There is a necessary, quite evident link, however, since the sand, the picture, vibrates with the words. When there is too much sand, the voice becomes muffled: from beginning to end there is discontinuity in the continuity, there has been a reversal, now it is the words which are modified by the sand. It is not a situation parallel to that of the beginning: the natural sand tends to stifle the words, imposes silence or noise upon them instead of its significant power. Gary Hill not only discovers "the power of speech" (like Godard in the film of the same title), but also the power of modification of the outside element.
This tape is itself its own commentary; the text indicates the three poles between which everything is played: what is said ("speak"), what is seen and what can be touched ("a hand enters the picture".

Paul-Emmanuel Odin