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Sean CubbittClick here to Print this Page
David Hall
Consider the specificity of Hall's Vidicon Inscriptions of 1974 and 1975. Chip cameras no longer give us comet tails, and the burn of a flare of light on the old tube cameras has gone.

But here preserved are the traces of ghostings, perhaps most poignantly in the installation documents where the mugging of participants is at once improvisationally real and yet caught already in a moment simultaneously of capture and decay. The work is about the materiality of the screen technologies of the day, for sure. It is also, especially in retrospect, an elegy for the passing of time - the time of the gesture as it fades from the screen, the time of technologies that have their moment and pass away. Shakespeare's Sonnets promised immortality: more realistically, these records promise ephemerality. Their conception of the moving image as always and necessarily on the brink of death - of becoming nature morte, the oxymoronic 'still life'. For Hall, in these pieces, the moving image and the kind of technologically latent 'pause' effected in their inscriptions seize life indeed, but drain it too. This elegant paradox only shows itself to be the more significant, the more manufacturers labour to remove such artefacts from new generations of machine.

Like most of Hall's installations, this is a theatrical piece in the sense established in the art critic Michael Fried's 1967 attack on minimalism. For Fried art that set up the artwork as an object, as sculptors like Donald Judd were doing, was theatrical because it addressed a spectator in a particular situation, because it subordinated the art to the audience. Most of all, unlike the abstract painters he admired, it was because for Fried the experience of minimalist objects persisted in time. Fried is not wrong in his description, only in his evaluation. He liked an art of instantaneousness and shape - a timeless art, and one addicted to space. Hall, without abandoning space, is never therefore ready to abandon duration.

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