Hall 1968–9 by the British filmmaker Peter Gidal is a film comprised of fragmented views of an interior hallway. Systematically edited long, medium and close-up shots are used to depict the doorway, details of the furniture and architectural features of the space. Objects within the space – such as a bowl of fruit, posters on the wall and the door handle – are also represented, operating as something approaching a ‘still-life’. Yet the brevity with which the viewer is permitted to acknowledge these objects complicates this portrayal. The different images are presented in a pattern that forms a rhythm throughout the film; the fast cuts encourage the viewer to attempt to draw comparisons between the different objects, although no intelligible narrative emerges. A bell can be heard in the film but its source is ambiguous: it could be a doorbell or an alarm. After several minutes the incessant ringing fades to silence before coming back at the end of the film as the footage loops round again, but the sound is still without an identified source. The work is shown as a projection and was not produced in an edition.
Hall was made shortly after Gidal relocated to England from America. As with Gidal’s earlier Room – Double Take 1967, and in common with other structuralist filmmakers such as Michael Snow and Annabel Nicholson, the domestic space depicted in Hall is the artist’s apartment in London. This readily available environment provides the context for an exploration of the potential of the cinematic apparatus to focus, direct and destabilise the attention of the viewer.
Thanks to Peter Gidal for giving us permission to host his films.
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