Doug Hall: The Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described Opening Reception
Saturday, Mar 28, 2015, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Walter and McBean Galleries
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SFAI and SFMOMA are pleased to jointly present Doug Hall’s seminal large-scale installation The Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described (1987), which conjoins industrial imagery with documentary scenes of nature in turmoil. Its three channels of video, displayed on six monitors and a projection, are accompanied by the sculptural presence of a functioning Tesla coil, two large steel chairs, and a tilted, commanding steel-mesh barricade. Bringing together the immediacy of sculpture with powerful moving images, and startling jolts extending from the coil, the installation is a potent reminder that we are subject to the forces of nature and the influence of media.

This exhibition marks the first time The Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described has been on view in the Bay Area in 25 years, when it was shown at SFMOMA in its former location in the War Memorial Veterans Building. The co-presentation of this major work from SFMOMA's renowned media arts collection is part of the SFMOMA On the Go program.

The exhibition is jointly curated by Hesse McGraw, vice president for exhibitions and public programs at SFAI, and Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts at SFMOMA and visiting faculty at SFAI.


San Francisco-based Doug Hall is professor emeritus at SFAI, where he taught from 1980 until 2008. Hall is currently a visiting artist in graduate fine arts at California College of the Arts. His internationally acclaimed work spans performance, video, and photography.

SFMOMA on the go

Doug Hall, The Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described (installation view [detail], Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston), 1987; Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of the Modern Art Council and the San Francisco Art Dealers Association; © Doug Hall; photo: Charles Mayer