Adrian Piper

The Hypothesis Series 1968–70

March 3 – March 26, 1994
149 Wooster Street

I started working on the Hypothesisseries in 1986 and continued through to 1970. In earlier pieces — my “pure” conceptual work, I explored things, words, sounds, and pages of paper as concrete physical objects that referred both to themselves and also outward, to the world of abstract, symbolic meaning. In the Hypothesisseries I was interested in connecting up these investigations with the investigation of my own body as equally a concrete physical object that could refer to itself as a well as to other objects, and in finding the points of similarity and difference. This series was the work I did having to do with race and gender objectification, otherness, identity, and xenophobia. In the Hypothesisseries I was investigating myself as equally an object in space and time, an object that moves through space and time just like any other object; but unlike other specific three dimensional objects, this one has a peculiar capacity: namely the capacity to register self-consciously the space and time I am moving through, to actually represent that consciousness symbolically - in photographs - and abstractly - in a coordinate grid, and communicate it.

So what I did was to document the contents of my consciousness at specific time-intervals as the particular feature that distinguished me from other objects in the world. I held the camera up to my eyes and snapped photographs of whatever I was looking at, at that particular moment.

Sometimes I used measured and predetermined time-intervals, sometimes I snapped the shutter randomly, depending on what was most convenient. So, for example, in some of them I’m watching television in my loft and snap a photo every ten seconds during a commercial, say. In another one I’m walking down Hester Street in front of my building and snap the photo at random intervals because I might bump into someone if I concentrate too much on measuring the time-intervals. These photos were symbolic representations of the contents of my consciousness at a particular space-time location and moment then I plotted those moments on a space-time coordinate system. The horizontal graph is the time coordinate and the vertical graph is the space coordinate. The photos connect each moment with a particular space-time intersection. Each individual work is an artifact and document of my consciousness during a certain unique interval.

This is what I concluded was the difference between human objects and other kinds of objects: other objects can be referential (to other things) or self-referential, but only human objects can be conscious (of other things) or self-conscious. That is, only human objects are also subjects.

Adrian Piper, January 20, 1994

For more information, please contact the gallery: (212) 255-1105 or info@paulacoopergallery.com