Video, color, sound, 30:00 (loop); LCD screen; laser disc; laser disc player
3.5 x 4.5 inches / 8.9 x 11.4 cm (screen)

This is the fourth, chronologically, of the set of four videos editioned in 1993, all of which are tightly framed images of body parts potentially or actually overflowing with matter. This video is of a mouth (Hamilton’s) with stone marbles rolling around inside it and almost slipping out— a sensuous, tantalizing, suspenseful gesture—or conversely, almost slipping in—a tense evocation of choking or suffocating. (The scraping sounds of the marbles bumping against each other constitute the soundtrack.) This video was made at the Wexner Center for the Arts during Hamilton’s residency, which took place not long after Hamilton had moved to Ohio from California.

The title of the installation derives from the discussion of the letter “aleph” in the book ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind by Ivan Illich and Barry Sanders. Their explication reveals that the sound and the name of the letter “aleph” derive from the shape the larynx takes as it moves from silence to speech.

As first exhibited in Hamilton’s installation aleph, 1992 at the List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, it was seen at the end wall of a very long room. Hamilton notes, “I remember cutting into the wall to fit the small round-backed standard television—I am presuming this installation preceded the proliferation of flat-screen monitors. ”When the four related “overflow” videos were editioned in 1993, Hamilton specified the use of flat-screen monitors measuring 3 ½ × 4 ½ inches / 8.9 × 11.4 cm.


Text excerpted from Ann Hamilton: An Inventory of Objects. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2006. Joan Simon.