Art Space

HI


HI is a greeting. It’s a throwaway word: easy, informal, warm. It radiates familiarity. HI is what friends say to friends. 

HI is an intrusion of privacy, incessant and inescapable. Everyone is saying HI to everyone, all the time, through emails and texts and Instagram and junk mail and sales calls. 

HI is a series of staged encounters with a word we use without thinking, holding our tropes of communication up to the light and exploring how meaning circulates across changing contexts.

Ever-present across conversation and social interaction, HI is perhaps the most casual message we can send. The word itself is almost forgettable by design, a scrap of language, a universal signifier with variants in languages from German to Hindi. Some dictionaries class it as a ‘natural exclamation’, like it’s pre-linguistic, a sound from the unconscious. But how natural is it really? If it’s unconsciously produced, then what buried meanings can it conceal? It’s easy to fall into the trap of HI’s deceptive simplicity, the word’s blank stare. Its warmth can tip over into unearned familiarity; it can be earnest or insincere, easy or tricky, real or fake. In a world defined by mass communications, both real and virtual, it would be naïve to think a word can only mean one thing. Especially a word we use all the time. 

Prints and a White Box from HI were included in Etcetera, an exhibition by SPIN. For sales enquiries please contact rachel@spin.co.uk.