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

Using video as a component within an installation (as she had used a film loop in the prior year) was, for Hamilton, “a way to introduce a gesture that can’t be performed live or can’t be ongoing.” Here, in her first video, one sees water perpetually flowing over and down a neck. The image is framed to reveal the segment of a body from an upturned chin to the base of the neck. For Hamilton, the relationship depicted was of excess—“no one can swallow that much water”— and in the installation it was paired with a blown-up image of flowers bathed in steam. For Hamilton, the overflow of water signaled “how that which nourishes becomes perilous or destructive in some way.”

The installation was first shown in January 1988. When it was exhibited in a somewhat revised form in April 1988, Hamilton added the video. The video was displayed on a standard, though small, box-like monitor high up, projecting from the wall. The monitor housing was surfaced with the same shoe polish that inflected the wall on which it was positioned.

When the video was editioned in 1993, along with three others with related “overflow” imagery—(the capacity of absorption • video), (linings • video), and (aleph • video) — Hamilton specified that they were each to be shown on a small, flat-screen monitor mounted flush to the face of the wall. At the time, this was an unusually small screen size for exhibiting video, especially compared to the large, full-wall projections that many artists were beginning to use. The size of the screen recalls Hamilton’s familiar use of miniaturization, often in the context of large quantities of small elements set within vast architectural spaces. She chose the screen size because it was “scaled to intimacy,” for the image shown in the video was “not much smaller than an actual neck.”

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