Bill Viola

Bill Viola (age 59) was born in NYC in 1951. He is a world-renowned video and sound artist who was one of the eraly pioneers in the genres. His works have been exhibited at institutions including the Guggenheims Berlin and New York, the Whitney, the Met, the Getty, and the National Gallery, London. In terms of the subject matter and content of his pieces his website’s biography section(http://www.billviola.com/biograph.htm) had the best information: “Viola uses video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. Using the inner language of subjective thoughts and collective memories, his videos communicate to a wide audience, allowing viewers to experience the work directly, and in their own personal way.”

The two main adjectives I would use to describe Bill Viola’s work are intimate and eerie- They are intimate because they are intense meditations on universal human experiences. And I find his later works (such as Ocean Witout a Shore from the 2007 Venice Biennale) to have the eeriest quality in their dealings with almost zombie-like transformative experiences. Water seems to be a common transformative or portal element in his work and to obtain the previously-described mood and effect of his pieces.

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