Spread out on a round table are bones, skulls of small mammals, butterflies, nuts and other botanical finds of the kind that one migh collect on a nature trail in a forest - but also shells and scraps of paper. They are relics symbolizing the cycle of life familiar to us from vanitas still lifes and collections of cabinet's pieces (collections of art objects, natural - historical phenomena, curios and relics made by gentlemen in bygone centuries).
The camera moves around the table, picking out objects which, because of the shallow depth of focus, stand out one after another from the panorama of the jumbled collection. A bird's skull, a piece of bark or a crystal appear needle-sharp in the picture, following which the focus changes and the contours of a shell emerge from the nebulous background. In this way the camera discloses the transient beauty of the items one after the other, capturing their beauty for a fraction of a second before losing it from focus as the lens seeks out the next object.
Hill uses this procedure throughout Site Recite. During the process, a first-person narrator ruminates about his momentary state of consciousness and about his relation with the world. The syllabic rhythm of the voice is synchronized to the continual focusing and blurring of the image.
The final passage of the work places the viewer inside the mouth of the speaker looking out. Just as the narrator opens his mouth and speaks, light enters the speaking cavity, the tongue moves and the teeth masticate the last words of the work : "imagining the brain closer than the eyes."
Catalogue Gary Hill, Selected Works + Catalogue raisonné, edition Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2002