In Circular Breathing, there is the sense of a disturbing narrative accumulating and dissipating through each successive set of scenes. Images from the streets of Tangier, a ship on the open sea and the interior of a mosque juxtapose with a man chopping wood and a cigarette burning slowly in an ashtray. An older woman reading and large thick hands loading a pistol unfold next to bladed stems and a close-up of an insect dragging its prey. Throughout all the segments, there is the recurring image of a woman’s hands playing a piano. The music, however, distorted by the changes of speed, can be identified as Vexations by Eric Satie.
The title of Circular Breathing comes from a technique that horn and reed instrument players use to play a continuous note, seemingly without taking a breath. This notion is drawn upon with the visualization of long sequences composed of five discreet scenes that migrate onto the projection field with mathematical precision.
Courtesy Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, permanent loan to the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Switzerland.
Gary Hill (b. 1951, Santa Monica, CA) has worked with a broad range of media – including sculpture, sound, video, installation and performance – since the early 1970’s, producing a large body of single-channel videos, mixed-media installations, and performance work.