Doug Hall. The Uncanniness of Tourist Sites

Clip from Doug Hall, Chrysopylae, 2012. Two-channel video installation with sound. San José Museum of Art. Gift in part of the Lipman Family Foundation with additional funds contributed by the Acquisitions Committee, 2012.09. Courtesy of Doug Hall.

Capturing one of the most photographed bridges in the world, Doug Hall used two cameras to create sweeping panoramic views of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge for the two-channel video installation Chrysopylae (2012). The artist began working primarily with video in the 1980s and, over the course of the following decades, expanded his practice to include large-format photography. Focusing his camera on tourist sites, Hall is interested in how widely photographed monuments and landscapes “are constructed in our imagination long before we see them.”1 People flock to places like museums, train stations, and tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge with expectations for what they will see: “I see these spaces functioning like stage sets—as if experience is being staged for and by us.”2 Hall suggests that when we encounter such sites, we have the sensation of being both inside and outside of the experience. Chrysopylae presents the sense of romantic familiarity through images of the iconic bridge contrasted with lesser-seen footage of the routine traffic of colossal container ships that pass beneath it.

  1. Doug Hall, in Lisa Sutcliffe, “Open Space Interview: Doug Hall with Lisa Sutcliffe,” June 7, 2010, available at ↩︎

  2. Doug Hall, interviewed by Nick Kaye, October 25, 2012, on Site Works: San Francisco Performance 1969–85 project website, University of Exeter, available at ↩︎