THE NINE O’CLOCK GUN – 1980 / 9:00 / 16mm to SD

Real time is an oxymoron. The film presents a single shot, pun intended, of Vancouver’s famous gun on a night in June of 1980; an event that is unique yet happens every night. The firing point, a point in time, occurs exactly in the middle of the film and suggest that our temporal experience is limited to the future (before the gun fires), the present, the moment that is impossible to experience (the bang) and the past (after the gun has fired). Our experience of time in our innermost self is intimate unlike our experience of space or mass yet nothing in physics corresponds to the passage of time. How can something we experience as being so real likely not even exist.

Gallagher is a playful structuralist. The subject of the Nine O’clock Gun, a well-known Vancouver landmark, might also be considered a performing sculpture. Here the camera is stationary, but again space is palpably carved out by it. And so is time. In fact Gallagher is playing a waiting game, but because the event is being represented to us by film, the meaning of that game is very different from one we might play ourselves some evening in Vancouver. Fixed point of view and the single continuous take serve to focus our attention on the moment-to-moment birth-and-death of the world we experience out there. The very artificiality of film, its limitations as a representation of reality, seem to draw our attention to the act of representation/interpreting the world that we are constantly engaged in consciously and unconsciously. The Nine O’clock Gun is thus a meditation on the passing of time even as “nothing happens, the still cinema image we can’t help but bring to life 24 times a second.

— Tony Reif, Art for Consenting Adults