Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? (Come on Petunia)
1984 Gary Hill Born: Santa Monica, California 1951 single-channel video, color, sound; 33:09 minutes Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase made possible by the Ford Motor Company © 2015 Gary Hill / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2007.33.15 Not currently on view
Gary Hill's first scripted screenplay, Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? (Come on Petunia), is a complex theatrical essay on the ordering principles of language. The script is adapted from Gregory Bateson's book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Hill recorded portions of the video with the performers speaking the text phonetically backward and similarly, performing their actions backward. These sequences are played from beginning to end in reverse, betraying an uncanny physical movement and muddled speech that is nearly intelligible, and revealing the inverted logic of the video.
Watch This!: Revelations in Media Art, 2015
About Gary Hill
Born: Santa Monica, California 1951