This essay was originally commissioned by Hordaland Kunstsenter (Hordaland Art Centre) in Bergen, Norway, to coincide with HC Gilje's solo exhibition blink. Thank you to Mitchell Whitelaw, HC Gilje and Hordaland Kunstsenter for allowing us to republish it to Rhizome News.
HC Gilje's work arises from a moment when the anything-at-all of digital video was just opening up, thanks to a combination of new real-time tools, cheap computing power, and some key interdisciplinary influences. Drawing on experimental sound and music, improvisation and performance became important solutions; working live in a specific situation, artists would gather, process, generate, and recombine material. In work from the late 1990s and early 2000s, from Gilje and his collaborators in 242.pilots, as well as video ensembles such as Granular Synthesis and Skot, the result is abstract and intense, a flow of layered digital texture. In performance it saturates the body and senses; big screens, big speakers. Instead of the narrative transport of cinema, which takes us somewhere else, this work creates - and is created in - an intensified sense of presence, what Gilje calls an "extended now". This methodology is vital; it focuses the open-ended generality of digital media in to a point: on this, rather than anything-at-all.