Artist – Bill Viola

‘Dissolution’ 2005 Video Still

He is a video artist born in 1951. Themes include – human consciousness and experience, emotion, love, birth and death. A kind of human spirituality. He has a deep interest in mystical traditions (Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sudism, Christian mysticism. Evidential in the transcendental quality  of some of his works.  Dualism is also a major theme,  idea that you can’t understand what you’re looking at unless you know the opposite.  Life-and-death, light and dark, stressed in calm, loud and quiet. In my work I suppose it would be conscious and unconscious.

I really love the painterly quality of his videos,  and how he has managed to combine film and performance.This is one of his older videos, filmed in the 1970’s. Now he uses ultra-slow motion, ‘ allowing the viewer to sink into the image and connect deeply to the meaning is contained within it.’  Often when you go from  conscious to unconscious there is this heavyweight feeling that I can relate to Violas work.

‘Tempest’ study for ‘ the raft’

Critics – Marjorie Perloff

Perloff, who has written at length about the necessity of poetic works responding to and taking advantage of contemporary computer technologies,  has written of Viola as an example of how new technology – in this case,  the video camera –  can create entirely new    aesthetic criteria and possibilities did not exist in previous incarnations of the genre –  in this case, theatre.’

From Viola himself 

‘When I first touched a video camera, something inside me said I will do this the rest of my life. Don’t ask me why, but I had a vision of video moving out into the
world, into the culture, very clearly. I could feel it, so I knew I would do it forever. Technology’s changing so much, it would be as if a painter learned to paint with only a limited set of colours. Then every year there were more colours, more techniques and
that’s what happened in video. This piece uses the newest high definition video camera that’s made, one that came out three months ago. It’s a really advanced camera that is on the same level and quality as 35mm film, probably little better.

So I think the most important thing is to keep up in yourself, to make sure that you’re always growing. You can have the best technology in the world, but if you don’t have an idea, if you don’t have a feeling of moving forward in life, of trying to do something you don’t know… because we always want to do things we know, we feel very comfortable, but you have to always make sure there’s a place for something you don’t know. You have to push yourself and that for me has been the journey.’

Him saying all that in video form:


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