Gary Hill "Incidence of Catastrophe"

I chose Gary Hill today because of an interesting conversation I had with author Shane Jones over the weekend, during which he talked about the imagery from films that inspired certain scenes in Daniel Fights A Hurricane. (will post the interview this week!) I'm always very intrigued by the cross-overs between disciplines and how they inspire artists. Whether it is film inspiring a novel, or one artist being inspired by, and engaging in multiple forms of self expression. Someone tweeted at me sarcastically that I should include the lip syncing videos James Franco makes - but to be honest, I do not think it would be totally invalid. I feel inspired by the mixture of mediums and disciplines etc... as well as the ever growing threshold of what "video art" or "experimental video" is.

In Incidence of Catastrophe (1987) Hill is working from a novel, in the opposite way in which Shane spoke to me about working off of an image. In a way it reminds me of the book trailers I've made for Shane, in which he sent me the novel and I created all of the images that came to mind when reading it. Could Incidence of Catastrophe be the long-form, first attempt at what would later be morphed into the idea of "book trailer"?

He doesn't allow embedding of his videos, so to watch the full video click HERE.

From Hill's Vimeo: Inspired by the novel Thomas the Obscure by Maurice Blanchot wherein the protagonist of the novel is the reader of the novel he is in (who may well be Blanchot himself). In the video, Thomas the protagonist is played by Hill which confounds the self-reflexive nature of the book’s relationships all the more, making the video something of a “transcreation.” The “reader” begins in the liquidity of the text almost as if he were waking from drowning. Images of the sea ravishing the shore – small cliffs of sand eroding and collapsing – are inter-cut with extreme close-ups of text and the texture of the page and book itself being flooded with ocean waves. In scene after scene the reader attempts to re-enter the book only to find himself a part of intense dreams and hallucinations. Thomas/Hill reads the book, when, suddenly, he feels he is being watched by the words. The character then experiences the book as a forest of words he is fighting through. Another “chapter” finds him alone in his room at night, overcome by a strange illness, in which the vision of the text has him vomiting violently. The text infiltrates the reader’s entire experience. Thinking he is still capable of functioning socially, the character finds himself at dinner with a group of hotel guests. Their conversation turns into isolated words that, like the sand, erode and wash away with seemingly all possibilities of meaning. The final scene shows the reader in the form of Hill physically and mentally destroyed. Cowering naked in the fetal position, he lies in his own excrement on a white-tiled floor, babbling unintelligible sounds. The pages of the book have grown into monumental walls with colossal letters that menacingly surround and imprison the naked body.

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