(the picture is still • video) | 2001
Video, black and white, sound, 12:00 (loop); LCD screen; DVD; DVD player; fascia plate
15 inches / 38.1 cm (screen)
For her installation the picture is still at Akira Ikeda Gallery, Taura, Japan in 2001, Hamilton, using an inexpensive single-chip surveillance camera for the first time, made videos by moving her hand slowly over the surface of a black and white photograph—“almost caressing the image, as if touching or probing its flat surface to yield something more bodily.” Hamilton has likened the fluidity of using the tiny video surveillance camera to working with a pencil in the hand. Here, the appendage of touch becomes the “eye” just as the organ of speech, the mouth, became an “eye” in her pinhole-camera series.
For (the picture is still • video), Hamilton applied her technique of “handseeing"—reading, recording, and in effect rewriting—the image by running her hand over the photograph of a child (her son, Emmett). As a consequence of the camera’s proximity to the image, it is impossible to recognize a full face or figure. The resulting video image is of an abstracted figure with an open mouth, marking a conceptual shift from the particular to the general.
The close focal distance between hand/camera/eye and image also causes the picture to come in and out of focus, and the flat image of the face to appear to be dimensional. For Hamilton, the process of scanning over the photograph “returns time . . . to what is still . . . as in the title the picture is still . . . as in not moving . . . but also as in ‘still here’ . . . the way history haunts and inhabits the present.”
Text excerpted from Ann Hamilton: An Inventory of Objects. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2006. Joan Simon.