Going Around in Circles

Nancy Holt
Video, black and white, sound
Duration: 15 minutes, 19 seconds

Going Around in Circles is an early video experiment by Nancy Holt. It explores focused perception, a central interest for Holt.  Holt worked on this video with curator and art critic Bruce Kurtz and his students, and the video was shot at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. Like Zeroing In, made the same year, Going Around in Circles developed from Holt’s Locators—sculptures she started making in 1971. Comprising industrial piping welded into a T-shape, the Locators are made to be viewed through with one eye to direct attention to the time-bound processes of vision to the limitations and manipulations and vision.

A board perforated with five circular holes was placed in front of the camera. These apertures are variously covered and uncovered and through the circle five subjects are seen moving between five points, following instructions to turn in circles. This recording was then watched by Holt, Kurtz, and the students. Their discussion of the experience of the performance, sharing how it is perceived on the ground and through the playback monitor, forms the soundtrack. 


Writing by the Artist

Some Notes on Video Works

Nancy Holt

In Points of View, an installation at the Clocktower Gallery, New York City, May 1974, four monitors were placed facing out N, E, S, W at eye level in the center of the room. They were enclosed in a white rectangular structure 61⁄2 x 41⁄2 x 41⁄2 ft. with monitor screens exposed at a height of 41⁄2 to 51⁄2 ft. This structure repeated the structure of the square room with its high walls and four windows N, E, S, W overhead. The windows themselves were made circular, causing an interaction between the circles of sunlight shining into the space and the circles of video light being emitted by the monitors.

Scholarly Text

Nancy Holt: Zeroing In

Sarah Hayden

Nancy Holt strove to provoke the “concretisation of perception” by isolating “limited visions through holes and things” that would cause people to “really focus, really perceive intensely the thing seen.”1  Holt’s 1973 video Zeroing In is a conversation, a game, and an experiment. It is also a live, instructional demonstration by Holt of the artful means and elemental technologies by which her work intervenes upon and enlivens everyday acts of visual perception.

See Also