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Sean CubbittClick here to Print this Page
David Hall
What is so interesting about the trajectories taken in David Hall's work is that already by the 1970s it had gone beyond the neo-conceptualism that fills the art collectors galleries.

The lessons of minimalism that Fried described so accurately, even if he valued them wrongly, moved with Hall's video work towards questions as rich with ambiguities as Duchamp's Fountain, moving beyond the art-for-art's-sake nirvana of the 'neo' into a questioning of the practices and functions of both video and television. In tune too with the traverse between minimalism and the counterculture, Hall was always prepared to accept the game of illusion if it is the only game in town. He uses it for art in his early sculptures and in the film Vertical (1969), and watches it roll through the logical permutations of its self-presentation in This is a Televison Receiver. Among the later TV Interruptions, contexTV recites once more Magritte's 'ceci n'est pas une pipe', for all its commercial-art thinness still an iconic statement of modernity. The crux has always been the meaning of 'ceci', the 'this' of 'this is not a pipe'. Is it the written statement or the painting? Or is it in some way the model from which it was painted? The question of being - of how things are, in what ways they exist for themselves and for us - is one of the two great questions at the core of philosophy West and East. The other is, what is the good life: what is virtue, how should we live together, what are our responsibilities, how can we live well? Mostly the two questions are kept apart. But in Hall's works the problems of being and perception, their endless paradoxes, their endless renewals of possibility are themselves the form of the good life. A life is good that's spent contemplating these things. But even more so, investigating being and illusion, absence, disappearance, forgetting, erasure and traces, is a way of understanding that this real life is not the only life, and that a better or at least a different one lies alongside it, the depth of the screen away.

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