American Bill Viola is one of the world’s leading video artists. Since the early 1970s he has used video to explore universal human experiences such as birth, death and the unfolding of consciousness. He is influenced by both Western and Eastern artistic and spiritual traditions including Zen Buddhism and Christian…
He says that conventional film-makers "thought we were idiots and that video would never last", but soon a community of video artists coalesced and, a couple of years later, "we started to get letters from England, France andAsia from people who were working out what this video camera thing could do. We realised that this thing was going on everywhere."
Bill Viola (b. 1951) was among the first artists to explore the possibilities of film and video in a fine-art context. Long respected as a groundbreaking artist, his depictions of raw human emotion have achieved popular acclaim in recent years.
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Over the last decade, through a wide variety of media and formats, Viola has continued in his work to depict the fundamental experience of life. This is eloquently illustrated by his use of water in works such as The Innocents (2007), Three Women (2008), and The Dreamers (2013)—and his journey through the cycle of life, which begins in this exhibition with Heaven and Earth (1992) and literally "rewinds" in the final work Inverted Birth (2014).
Fig. 1: Bill Viola, Ascension, 2000, color video projection on wall in dark room; stereo sound; projected image size: 131 7-8 x 98 7-8 in (335 x 251 cm); room dimensions variable; 10:00. Performer: Josh Coxx. Photo: Kira Perov. Courtesy of Bill Viola Studio LLC.
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Importantly these works all date from just after the turn of the century. This was a time when Viola had just been introduced to the newly developed LCD screen. Flat, bright and clear and modestly sized it represented an opportunity for Viola to look at video in a new way. In the nineties he had been working on large wall or screen based projections, often in non-gallery locations, and this was a chance for something more intimate in scale.
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