Nineteen people of varying age, race and sex gather in tight physical proximity, as a compact human mob, when without warning a gushing onslaught of water from both sides of the screen knocks them into one another and down to the ground.Read More »
1981-1990Bill ViolaUSAVideo Art
Structured in five parts, Il Corpo Scuro (The Dark Body), The Language of the Birds, The Night of Sense, Stunned by the Drum, and The Living Flame, the tape envisions a metaphysical journey of rational and intuitive thought, from the natural world to spiritual rituals. Viola’s poetic investigation of subject and object, observing and being observed, and his search for knowledge of the self is encapsulated in an indelible visual metaphor: an image of the artist reflected in the pupil of an owl’s eye.Read More »
2011-2020ArthouseBill ViolaDocumentaryGerald FoxUSA
Gerald Fox’s film documents Bill Viola and his wife and close collaborator Kira Perov’s odyssey to create two permanent video installations for London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, Martyrs and Mary, the first art commissions of their kind to be installed in Britain’s most famous religious space.
Heralded as the world’s greatest video artist, Bill Viola continues to astonish with every work. This intimate, 12 years in the making documentary, captures the spiritual dimension of his ground-breaking oeuvre and creative process. We’re proud to present it simultaneously with its UK cinema tour!Read More »
1991-2000Bill ViolaExperimentalUSAVideo Art
A man between daydreaming and nightmaring, between the call of life and the call of death; his night in mid-water, apnea, perfored by a succession of visions…
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1981-1990Bill ViolaExperimentalUSAVideo Art
« I was thinking about light and its relation to water and to life, and also its opposite – darkness or the night and death. I thought about how we have built entire cities of artificial light as refuge from the dark. »
Video treats light like water – it becomes a fluid on the video tube.
Water supports the fish like light supports man. Land is the death of the fish. Darkness is the death of man. »
Bill Viola, 1981
Hatsu-Yume (First Dream) is Bill Viola’s masterpiece, the greatest work by one of the most important video artists in the world. A spiritual allegory equating light and dark with life and death. Hatsu-Yume was produced in Japan in 1981 while Viola was artist-in-residence at the Sony Corporation. The title refers to Japanese folklore, wherein things done on the first day of a new year are significant. But the tape is not to be taken literally as a dream. For Viola, it’s more like the aboriginal concept of dreamtime, the creation of the world. That’s why, as a whole and in its parts, Hatsu-Yume progresses from darkness to light, stillness to motion, silence to sound, simplicity to complexity, nature to civilization. There are two interwoven themes: the dark water world of fish, and Buddhist rituals invoking the souls of dead ancestors. As in a dream, we frequently can’t tell if these wordless streams of image and sound are unfolding in real time, slow-motion or time-lapse. A work of extravagant pictorial beauty, Hatsu-Yume represents the most painterly use of light in the history of video. Form is content: the light that lures fish to their death protects human life. At once ominous, majestic, mystical and deeply spiritual, Hatsu-Yume is the work of a visionary poet of image and sound.Read More »