Borrowing from and reinterpreting Conceptual art and Minimalism, Liam Gillick's work is not confined to a specific form of artistic practice but ranges over his various activities as a critic, writer, designer, curator, filmmaker, professor, and visual artist. All of these diverse undertakings comprise his oeuvre, which is best considered in terms of groups of ideas with multiple layers or facets rather than individual objects.
In 1989 Gillick mounted his first solo exhibition, 84 Diagrams, at Karsten Schubert in London, presenting a series of drawings for buildings in the late Modernist style that were deliberately faulty or unworkable as architecture. Interested in "the ability to work fast and to process ideas rapidly," he used a computer program to generate the renderings at a time when such programs were first becoming accessible to the general user. The following year Gillick began working with artist and writer Henry Bond on a series called Documents. For this project, the artists operated as a news team, working through a British press association and attending news events (press conferences, photography sessions, and so on) as reporters or photographers. The works that resulted-each comprising a framed photograph and text panel, sometimes accompanied by an audio recording-had little to do with journalism, however. Gillick has said: "For me the more interesting idea was to constantly shift between the role of the artist and the person who doesn't need cultural permission to get involved in a discourse that is activated and normally has professionalised borders."