David Hall: End Piece… @ Ambika p3

Ambika P3 presents the solo show of British artist David Hall, ‘End Piece…’ consisting of four installations spread throughout the vast subterranean gallery space. Although Hall was initially trained as a sculptor he turned to video art during the 60’s and the 70’s and he is established as one of the pioneers of British video art.

The commissioned installation ‘1001 TV Sets (End Piece)’, is a larger version of the work originally conceived in 1972 as ’60 TV Sets’ and then in 1975 as ‘101 TV Sets’ for an exhibition at the Serpentine gallery. The current installation comprises of 1001 TV sets; each of them is tuned to one of the five analogue channels still being broadcast from London’s Crystal Palace until the digital switchover commencing between April 4 and 18. This is when analogue transmissions in London will cease for ever and consequently the picture on all 1001 TV sets will suddenly turn into white static noise.

The smaller rooms display some of Hall’s earlier works. ‘TV Interruptions (7 TV Pieces)’ is a selection of short videos (belonging to the original work of ’10 TV Interruptions’) initially broadcast unannounced by the Scottish television network back in 1971 and ‘Progressive Recession’ (1974) is a witty interactive installation consisting of 9 CCTV cameras and monitors that disconcertingly play with the viewer, or vice versa. A third work includes ‘Stooky Bill TV’ (1990) made as an unscheduled TV interruption piece first shown on channel 4.

With his centrepiece installation, Hall undoubtedly presents a statement to commemorate such a big change in British television. The creation of an island made of dying old fashioned TV sets is a gargantuan memorial to a bygone era, an era where the ubiquitous TV set was part of nearly every household with its daily life revolving around it. It is now introduced as a household detritus. Recognising certain types of TV sets that we once used to own creates a profound atmosphere of nostalgia and brings back not so distant memories. Hall’s sculpture has innumerable cables that all gather in the centre leading upwards and to a central connection point. They almost look like strings ready to be detached, showing the way to a new era of ruling digital imaging and flat screen TVs. A suggestion for the rapid advancement of wireless technology might also be there.

In Britain, the pioneers of video art set out to challenge television’s commercial nature. Hall being one of these pioneers, goes a step further. He challenges television’s nature in general with a glimpse in its future. By using his old apparatus as comparanda he helps us visualise how the same installation would look like in a future situation, probably not as far as one would imagine.