Gary Hill

Gary Hill: The Psychedelic Gedankenexperiment
Mixed media installation
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Two projection screens, two HD video projectors, eight specially fabricated foam chairs, four text panels (each 40 h x 71 w inches), four amplified speakers on tripods, 3D glasses, acoustic foam/plywood divider, one computer with two channels of Quicktime playback synchronized by MXP/MSP (2D and 3D HD color video; both with stereo sound)
Duration: 22 minutes, 48 seconds
Edition of one and one artist’s proof
The Psychedelic Gedankenexperiment is a declaration claiming the psychoactive event of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) as a “found performance” and as “the art experience par excellence.” The claim is expanded upon, suggesting that over time it will be heralded as the most influential work of art of all time.
First the artist contextualizes and frames the “variable qualities and dimensions” of the work. This is followed by a list of attributes of the work of art, suggesting a comparison with other art (experiences) and showing compelling reasons why the power of The Psychedelic Gedankenexperiment would not only be difficult to dismiss but forces a re-evaluation of the entire historical paradigm of what constitutes great art.
The artist’s “performance” takes place in an anechoic chamber which has been computer generated. After unfolding an abstract origami-like object that turns out to be a table with forced perspective, the artist delivers the text while constructing a large molecular model of lysergic acid diethylamide which takes the time of delivery to complete. The entire work is performed backwards, including both movement and speech, which has then been reversed to “correct” it into a comprehensible form. This process was first used by the artist in the 32 minute videotape entitled Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? (Come On Petunia), 1984.
The Psychedelic Gedankenexperiment was recorded in 3D, and the viewer puts on glasses to produce the 3D space. The forward and backward versions play simultaneously in sync–one forwards and one backwards on two facing projections. On the left is a smaller projection in 2D of the real time recording of the artist speaking the text backwards. It’s important to note that this is actually the vocalization of sounds that when reversed are revealed as the text in comprehensible form. The four text panels on the walls are the language signs the artist developed in order to pronounce the sounds backwards. This projection serves as a kind of referent as to the making of the work, and yet the “abstract” sounds, reminiscent of the experience of hearing a foreign language one does not understand, have a dimension all their own. On the right is a larger projection of the work after being reversed – “corrected” for the viewer to “understand” the speech. In front of both screens are specially fabricated foam “chairs” based on the molecular diagram of LSD. Framing each seating area are a pair of speakers on tripods offering detailed hearing and adding to the performance-like presentation. The varying size of the two projection screens produce an invisible frustum across the entire space.