Tag Archives: Susan Hiller

Unexplained Lights in the Sky: Susan Hiller’s “Witness”

by Ann Jones

Strange lights in the sky, odd saucer-shaped objects circling overhead, aliens who abduct unwitting passers by before returning them to their day to day lives… UFO sightings are familiar territory, occupying the minds of conspiracy theorists and providing the subject matter of countless films and television programmes and an interesting challenge to the ingenuity of special effects designers especially in the days before CGI. To declare my hand from the start: I don’t believe in UFOs. I believe there is always a rational explanation for lights in the sky and that it’s never the presence of space craft from elsewhere in the universe. I believe that the ghost in the tree is almost always a plastic bag, that the shadowy alien form on the television after closedown is probably tiredness, or dodgy technology, or bad weather, or almost anything but attempted communication from another world, that fact and fiction are easily blurred, especially in the presence of the human mind, and that true stories are still just stories. And I believe that you can prove practically anything with the internet if you have a mind to. So why then do I find Susan Hiller’s sound installation “Witness” – currently on display at Tate Britain as part of a retrospective of Hiller’s work – one of the most compelling art works I’ve seen in recent years?

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