Hotel Binary

Created 2000

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“I’m frightened of spiders.
I’m frightened of people finding out my secrets.
I’m frightened of the dark. I’m frightened of sharp things—knives, scissors, toothpicks…”

In Hotel Binary, a series of projections show men and women sat in real-world locations (from hotel lobbies to airport departure lounges) as they recount lists of the things that frighten them. As these lists unfold (from fear of love to fear of slipping on ice), a montage of images in four parallel projections explores and explodes the fragments of an un-tellable story. The projected images range from the blurred traces of a motorway at night and two bodies in sexual intercourse, to trees glimpsed from a window, the carpet of a hotel corridor and bare feet running on fire escape stairs. This series of outtakes conjured from a narrative past forms a glancing relationship with the spoken lists of fears, at times confirming their contents and at other times, undermining them.

Viewers are invited to a subtle game of join-the-dots as the layers of images work to build, demolish and rebuild the atmospheres and possibilities of a story. The filmed faces show thought processes, unfolding in real time — ‘performances’ in which the slightest shifts of expression, blinks and hesitations are major events to which attention is called.


Hugo Glendinning / Tim Etchells and Forced Entertainment. 4-channel video installation.

Commissioned by Site Gallery (Sheffield).