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Ten TV Interruptions by David Hall broadcast unannounced on Scottish TV.

These transmissions were a surprise, a mystery. No explanations, no excuses. Reactions were various. I viewed one piece in an old gents' club. The TV was permanently on but the occupants were oblivious to it, reading newspapers or dozing. When the TV began to fill with water newspapers dropped, the dozing stopped. When the piece finished, normal activity was resumed..I took these as positive reactions. David Hall, 19:4:90 Television Interventions catalogue,1990

Parallel to innovations in experimental film, British artists were exploring the potential of other media, such as the broadcast medium of television and the nascent technology of video. As part of the Edinburgh Festival in 1971 the artist David Hall was commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council to make ten short films which would be broadcast at unspecified times in between programmes on Scottish television for the duration of the festival. Part of a project curated by Alistair Mackintosh entitled Locations Edinburgh, Hall, a former sculptor, was one of seven artists including David Parsons and Stuart Brisley who were invited to make interventions into Edinburgh's urban environment. The local commercial television company Scottish Television (STV) agreed to transmit Hall's short film pieces between programmes two or three times a day over a ten day period in August and September. Hall filmed three of his interruptions in a film studio at Penicuik, outside Edinburgh and others in and around Edinburgh before being sent to the STV studios in Glasgow for transmission.

Appearing without any warning or mediation in the form of prior announcement and presentation, Hall's films wittily played on the format of the domestic television monitor, whilst also recalling Hall's background as a sculptor in their minimalist formal content. Rather than using his interventions to assert an artistic position, Hall was more interested in making a subtle subversion of the language and modes of production of television itself in order to challenge audience perceptions. 'The pieces were not intended as declarations of art in their own right, they did not assume that privilege. They were gestures and foils within the context of the predictable form and endless inconsequentiality of TV. They needed TV, they depended on it. (David Hall in 19:4:90 Television Interventions catalogue,1990). Some of the pieces, such as Two Figures, were filmed in the context of a television studio whilst others, such as Pan and TV Shoot Out are filmed on location around Edinburgh, in the latter three cameras at a busy road junction enact a shoot out through the frames of empty television monitors. In Tap Piece, one of the most well known from the series, the television monitor appears to slowly fill with water before draining away at an impossible angle, defying laws of gravity, whilst in Interruption a fire blazes inside a monitor set incongruously in the Scottish landscape whilst a voice repeats the word 'interruption' at intervals.

Seven of the ten original TV Interruptions were later compiled as TV Interruptions (7 TV Pieces).

Further Reading:
'InT/Ventions: some instances of confrontation with British broadcasting' by Mick Hartney,
Diverse Practices (ed) Julia Knight, ACE, John Libbey, University of Luton, 1996.

Nicky Hamlyn, Film Art Phenomena, BFI 2003

Lucy Reynolds

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Courtesy of David Hall
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