Video Art

What is Video Art?

Established in 1965, Video Art, a medium conceived by a Korean artist, namely Nam June Paik, 1 member of the Fluxus2 art movement, uses technology in an exceptionally diverse manner. In that year Sony created the Portapak, the first hand-held video camera. Paik shot his footage of Pope Paul VI’s procession through New York City from a taxi and a couple of hours later showed the first “Video Art” at Café a Go Go in Greenwich Village, hence Video Art was born. During the late 1960’s technical developments made various types of portable video equipment available to artists. Although facilitated by Japanese technology, video art was initially developed primarily by American artists within the era’s politically volatile social context. The commercial availability and portability of the early video camera facilitated the medium’s use by visual artists, including painters, sculptors, and performance artists. During the late 1960s and 1970s, video art was monitor-based and often politically charged to the point that artists formed collectives such as TVTV (Top Value Television), which infiltrated the 1972 Republican convention.

This form has seen phenomenal rise since these continuing advancements. Video Art has developed so rapidly with technological evolvement. Various artists use this mode in creating installations, performance art and videotapes for broadcast. One of the key differences between video art and theatrical cinema is that video art does not rely on many of the conventions that define theatrical cinema. Video art does not necessarily use actors, may not contain dialogue, may have no discernible narrative or plot, or adhere to any of the other comfortable conventions that construct cinema as entertainment. This distinction is important because it delineates video art not only from cinema but also from the sub-categories where those definitions may become muddy (as in the case of avant garde or short films). Perhaps the simplest, most straightforward defining distinction in this respect would then be to say that cinema’s ultimate goal is to entertain (i.e., to get someone to watch the film) whereas video art’s intentions are more varied—be they to simply explore the boundaries of the medium itself (e.g., Peter Campus, “Double Vision”) or to rigorously attack the viewer’s expectations of video as shaped by conventional cinema (e.g., Joan Jonas, “Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll”).

Some of these manners of working are a permanent issue for most artists, as the affiliation between video art and television is unclear.4 The question seems to be how to get video art out to the masses. As the German video artist Egon Bunne stated, “In modern culture, video art still has not gained the rank it deserves. Though video installations are welcome visual points of contemporary exhibitions, enriching and revaluating them upwards, video art itself is still burdened with prejudices and exposed to suspicious looks, if at all looked at.” This goes also and to a high degree for the television. Both public and private television and networks find that “video art is too extra-ordinary to find a fixed place in the program” -with a few and irregular exceptions, “but they are soon dismissed because of low numbers of viewers”.5

My preferred topic of discussion is the work of video art pioneer, Bill Viola and the sequences, Emergence and The Greeting.

Bill Viola was born January 25, 1951 in New York City. He grew up in Queens and Westbury and attended the P.S 20. Later he studied at the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the prestigious Syracuse University where he took part in an experimental program dedicated to exploring the possibilities of film making in a fine art context, graduating with a B.F.A. in 1973. During the period 1973 to 1979, Viola acquired the position as an exhibition assistant and video technician at the Syracuse’s Everson Museum, to the aforementioned Nam June Paik, Frank Gillette, a founding member of the video collective Raindance, 1969 and Peter Campus, a video artist established in 1971, on various projects. At some point in the 1970s Viola lived for 18 months in Florence, Italy, as technical director of production in one of the first video art studios in Europe, and then traveled widely to study and record traditional performing arts in the Solomon Islands, Java, Bali, and Japan. In 198081, he lived in Japan with his wife Kira Perov on a Japan/U.S. Cultural Exchange Fellowship, where he studied Buddhism with Zen Master Daien Tanaka and was artist-in-residence at Sony Corporation’s Atsugi research laboratories.7 In 1984 he was an artist-in-residence at the San Diego Zoo in California for a project on animal consciousness. Bill Viola is widely recognized as one of the leading video artists on the international scene. His work has spanned over three decades since his first original piece, Wild Horses, created in 1972. Prior, Viola was a founding member of the Synapse video group. This was a student society, which set up and administered a cable television system in 1971.8For over 30 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, and works for television broadcast.9 Viola’s sensual video installations—total environments, envelop the viewer through use of image and sound, employing state-of-the-art technology which are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. His single channel videotapes have been broadcast and presented cinematically around the world, while his writings have been published and anthologized for international readers.10

Inspirations Whilst studying Viola researched philosophical ideas, exploring Christian mysticism, Islamic Sufism and Zen Buddhism, focusing on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness.11 This continuing journey of sense perception, self-knowledge was to become the backbone of his work, using video to explore these phenomena. He has been influential in the establishment of video as a vital form of modern art, and in so doing has helped to expand its scope in terms of knowledge, content, and historical reach.

Collectors Collectors of Viola’s work include Agnes and Karlheinz Essl,12 The Silent Sea (2002) Plasma screen DVD (10:07), 71 x 41 x 6 cm, Pamela and Richard Kramlich, exuberant members of the Silicon Valley elite, who have used their fortune to create one of the world’s leading private collections of media art, a catchall term for work incorporating moving images, sound, and a variety of high and low tech presentations, The Crossing, 1996 Video/sound installation13and one of Australia’s most powerful businesswomen, owner of the Sussan Corporation, Naomi Milgrom who has an installation of Viola’s work on a plasma screen.14

Viola’s videotapes and installations have been shown widely throughout the world, in major group exhibitions at festivals and institutions including Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Documenta VI, Kassel, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Venice Biennale. He has also had one-person shows at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; ARC/Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, among other institutions. Bill Viola was chosen to represent the United States at the 46th Venice Biennale, which is the oldest and most renowned international contemporary arts festival. Five video and sound installations were created specifically by Viola for the Bienniale’s United States Pavillion. He was the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Amerian Art in 1998.15 The Messenger (1996) was commissioned by the Church of England, Chaplaincy to the Arts and Recreation for the 900-year-old Durham Cathedral in Northern England.


The Greeting

Inspired by the sixteenth century mannerist, Jacopo da Pontormo’s, painting, The Visitation, dating from 1528-1529, Church of San Michele at Carmignano. The scene depicts the meeting between the pregnant Virgin Mary and Elizabeth who was also pregnant with John the Baptist. The true inspiration for this piece of art is the following passage from the Gospel according to Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy [is] his name. 50 And his mercy [is] on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. Viola says, “This is the beginning of the project. The first part of the creative process for me is in the form of writing, with a few pictures here and there, but it’s actually words describing situations or it could be quotes from different things I’ve been reading. The Greeting was triggered directly by an encounter with a classical artist by the name of Pontormo who created a painting called The Visitation. It’s a classical theme of when Mary comes to visit her sister Elizabeth when she finds out she’s pregnant. I began to think about particularly the social aspect of the work, as opposed to the religious theme in the work, and that is the sort of greeting where two people are coming together. And then I began thinking in my own life, about meeting people. I began to think about people I’ve seen greeting. You’re at an airport. You know, those moments when you’re in an airport and you turn around and there’s two people who obviously haven’t seen each other in a while and there’s that magic of, just happens every moment in every airport in the world, people are getting on and off planes, and there’s that kind of poignancy of the good-byes, and the poignancies of the greetings happening all the time around us. I distilled from the three figures out of the painting these kind of three generic figures here, and I just literally with tracing paper began to place them in this kind of

hypothetical space. This touching point between people became the real focal point of that magic moment which all paintings suggest but can never actually reproduce because they can’t create time. They can’t embody time.” 16

Viola, through the use of video technology has effectively embodied time and brought life not only to the masterpiece but revived this biblical tale. The sequence takes place within an urban setting. The backdrop shows a collection of buildings with varying degrees of perspective disorientating the viewer. Within the back alley we see a dimly lit passage where two characters interact. Their business is unexplained and their apparent being there leaves a feeling of unease, questioning the safety of the two females. In the foreground we initially see the interaction and silent conversation between two mature females. Their dress is clearly modern-day although emulating Pontormo’s painting encapsulating the flowing fabrics portrayed in the scene. The female facing the camera head on wearing a clearly contemporary outfit together with black leather shoulder bag and court shoes has a solemn look about her. Her attempts to engage with the Elizabeth figure in a tactile manner seem in vain as any approach of contact is declined by Elizabeth, clearly making this character feel uncomfortable. We see the agitation of this character through the subconscious hand gestures that clearly show the discomfort felt. The Elizabeth figure seen here does not appear to be with child. As the story goes Elizabeth should be approximately six months pregnant and entering her third trimester17 . The flowing clothes are possibly hiding her position although we are unable to tell.

The wind, clearly symbolising the Holy Spirit, increases in its velocity and with this disturbance the two characters are interrupted by a third, being that of the Virgin Mary. The Mary character wears a bright orange dress combined with a shoulder bag of which we are ignorant to its contents. Surprisingly Viola has replaced the muted blue colour of her attire in the Visitation, with which we would normally identify Mary, with the contemporary bright orange dress. Here we can see that Mary is heavily pregnant, more obviously than that of Elizabeth. Mary at this point would be around three months pregnant18 . With this entrance we see the dynamic shift between the characters and how the solemn character in muted blue has evidently been left out of the greeting. She clearly does not know the new addition to the conversation and seemingly been outcast. Here Viola has created an awkward situation by replacing the original tableaux of four females with that of three, creating the age-old adage “two’s company and three’s a crowd”. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, depicted by the wind blowing through her clothes, greets Mary with open arms and we see the joyous expression on both their faces and experience the silent communication of their knowing each other’s predicament. The Mary character saying, “Can you help me”, breaks this silence?19 It is with this  question that Mary is seeking guidance from Elizabeth with regards to the experiences of being pregnant.20 Although we are inconclusive of whether the Elizabeth character can offer this advice, as it is unclear that she is with child even though the initial biblical passage confirms this we know that Viola’s intention was not to reenact the biblical story or restage Pontormo’s classical image. This entrance combined with the rude whispering increasingly adds to the third characters anxiety and feeling of unpleasantness. We see between the main characters and witness the expression of the character in blue’s sheer paranoia and worry from the exclusion. This thought provoking sequence helps the viewer to


relate on varying degrees the effects of all parties involved. Although the Mary character is not talking about the lady in blue, one can have compassion for the excluded character and with this realisation, take this on board and avoid the future implementation of these actions and performing in this way. Through the communication of this piece of video art one can contemplate their communicative abilities within society, questioning their own social skills. Mary steps back from Elizabeth and surprisingly Elizabeth then places her hand on the lady in blue’s back and brings her into the conversation.

She then introduces Mary to whom the focus shifts. They exchange pleasantries and the character in blue offers Mary her right hand to shake. Mary declines

stroking her pregnant bump. We see again the discomfort felt by the character who’s friendly approach has been refused. This is depicted again by the agitation of her hands and her clasping of her arm and fidgeting with her bag, not knowing what to do about the situation. Her body language suggests her insecurity and the not knowing of how to behave in this situation. Should she stay where she is not wanted? It is surprising that Viola portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary in this light. Is one to believe that Mary, the mother of our Lord was quite ignorant and she was above interaction, or should we surmise that Mary felt awkward being introduced to an already established conversation, not knowing the discomfort the lady in blue was already feeling? We can only speculate, as the outcome is unclear. The scene is ambiguous and purposely confuses the viewer. The main characters within the scene both wear sandals reminiscent of biblical times where as the third character wears more modern shoes with a heel. This difference in the footwear also seems to separate her from the protagonists, making her look even more out of place than she obviously feels. Through Viola’s thoughts of his own life, greetings he has experienced and of others he has witnessed, he has created a basis for bringing Pontormo’s masterpiece to life. Imagining the joy that Mary and Elizabeth experienced and the awkwardness of the third character with which most all of us can identify draws the audience further in to the sequence. One, feeling all the emotion evoked by the piece, and the great sentiment of affinity with this identification. Viola in effect is trying to educate society, creating an awareness of intrinsic social patterns. As each social greeting requires an awareness of all parties involved




Visual Analysis

Viola says that ‘Emergence’ began with a passing idea for a piece called ‘Woman Supporting Slumping Man’. Later, leafing through a book on the early Renaissance Italian

artists Masaccio and Masolino, he came upon a colour plate of Masolino’s fresco showing the corpse of the dead Christ in his tomb, supported by his mother Mary and John the Evangelist. 21 ‘I sketched it and put it away, ‘ he says. ‘I’m not interested in restaging historical paintings. ‘ Still later, an image occurred to him of two women pulling a dead man out of a well, and he looked back to Masolino’s composition. But since he wanted to embody the idea of birth, he began to imagine that as the body came out of the well, an unexplained surge of water would accompany it. 22 Emergence, shot on 35mm film and done in slow motion, colour high-definition video, rear projected on a screen which is mounted on a wall in dark room, 78’ by 78’23 is a piece inspired by the fresco painting of the Pietà, held at the Museo della Collegiata di Sant’ Andrea, Empoli, Italy, by the fifteenth century Italian artist Tomaso di Cristofano, also known as Masolino. This representation of Christ half-length in the sarcophagus, being supported either side by his mother and Saint John the Evangelist, suggests the biblical miracle of the Resurrection.24 Although Viola understands this to be the Deposition, this interpretation gives Emergence a base for its vagueness and ambiguity leaving the viewer open to arrive at his or her own decision. While Viola has no apparent desire to recreate or mimic classical paintings it seems the similarities between fifteenth-century Italian artist Masolino’s,

Pietá and Viola’s setting are uncanny. The positions of the actors within the Emergence scene seem to ‘reflect’ the Pietá, mirroring the position of the characters within a more contemporary setting.


Whilst researching the inspiration for Emergence I found that 25Violas picture of the Pietá is

flipped in comparison to the image I have retrieved. In effect Viola has not mirrored the image but seemingly reproduced the position of the characters according to his version. This is difficult however, to determine which is correct without seeing the actual source. The confusion seems to continue as within the book Bill Viola: The Passions26, the image is the same as the one I found not like the one seen within Viola’s note book in the film Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark


Kidel. 27 Continuing the research into this anomaly, contact was made with The National Gallery, London, with hope that they could clarify the position of the characters. Chris Morton, Information Officer for the gallery states that, ‘The original painting features the Virgin to the viewers left as reflects her importance’. This importance is that the “right hand” is the place of honor28 (1Kng.2:19; Matt.20:21-23; cf. Matt.25:33-34; 26:64) With this feature now made clear it seems that Viola’s replication of the Pietá’s character positions are true to its source, although the Virgin Mary figure is that of an older woman, a young woman has replaced the Saint John the Evangelist figure. Even though the backdrop of Emergence is seemingly similar to that of the Pietá, and does evoke the feeling of a fifteenth century fresco it however would seem more at home within the confines of a shopping centre, baby portrait stall, with a sheepskin rug in the foreground.

Viola says. ‘What I saw in my mind was this man rising up out of the water, young man, and as he’s rising out the water overflowing over the top of this cistern, well or whatever and he comes out and there’s two women either side of him who are shocked and surprised and emotionally overcome with the appearance of this young man. So if I look at this from the point of view of our contemporary eye it’s the aftermath of a drowning its two women pulling a limp lifeless figure out of water if I look at it from the inner, with the inner eye what I see is a birth of water overflowing and a young man who’s practically naked being taken out by women almost in the function of midwives of bringing a being into the world so and I don’t want to specify that image and lock it in for me images have their life because their un-tethered and free flowing and that’s what I want them to be so I’ve probably said too much already29.’

With this quote in mind, the symbolic reference of

the two women seems to represent the Blessed

Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene as read in The

Holman Christian Standard Bible Mathew 27:61

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated

there, facing the tomb. While the two women are not facing the ‘tomb’ this beginning sequence does reflect the biblical reference as either side of the focal point, be it a wellhead, altar, column, tomb or monument, shown here in still frame 1 sits the two women. Each woman is looking in the opposite direction of the other. There seems to be no real relationship between them, implying distance. The wellhead is the only thing connecting them yet separating them at the same time. The divide that this causes emulates the possible relationship of wife and mother in law. The individual grief they seem to be suffering is representative of their connected loss of a loved one and their inability to console one another.

This distance is interrupted by the rising of a pale, meagre, naked man from the wellhead along with the unexpected gush of overflowing water, shown in still two. This symbolism emulates the breaking of a woman’s waters prior to the birth, corroborating Viola’s reference to midwifery and their participation within the labour of childbirth. The younger character is first to respond to the male’s presence, just as Mary Magdalene was the first to witness the Resurrection. She tentatively touches the wellhead whilst the young man begins his ascent. The older female has not yet received his presence although her attention has been drawn more to the opposite side to which she was looking previous. There is still no connection between the female characters and though the Christ like figure emerging from the well has the full attention of the younger female he does not acknowledge her. The young man’s eyes are closed constantly during the sequence as if he sees all without their use. One is lead to believe his focus is beyond the set and the viewer cannot participate visually with the man so the vagueness continues as the audience are left to make up their own minds regarding what the figure sees with his ‘inner eye’. This lack of clothing suggests his vulnerability, whilst the whiteness of his skin evokes not only the texture of a drowned corpse but also the purity of innocence and ignorance as with a newborn child. The younger female is the first to attend the young male while the mother figure seems to have an expression of disbelief. Each woman shows a different reaction to the man emerging from the ‘well’.

The young male pays no attention to either female while he rises. As seen in still three, this image seems to emulate the real inspiration for the whole sequence. Here we see a more intimate nature of involvement between the younger female and the emerged male. Although Viola, declaring earlier has no desire to recreate historic images, this part of the sequence quite clearly interprets the Pietá. The biblical references are somewhat clear that this is more than just a birth or a drowning. What intrigues me more is, does Viola’s research into Christian mysticism infer that Jesus and Saint John’s association was intimate? The character substitution of Mary by an older female signifying the mother figure and that of Saint John by a younger female whose individual behaviour within the scene seems of an intimate, sexual nature provokes thoughts of the possibilities of a homosexual relationship between Jesus and Saint John. It is said in the bible that John was the man that Jesus loved The Holman Christian Standard Bible John 20:2 and is thought that John was abeautiful effeminate man. One wonders that the replacement of the male figure that kisses Christ in an adoring, loving way has been replaced as not to alienate ‘people’ from the piece of work as we live within a heterosexist society. The Holman Christian Standard Bible Mark 1:9 Saint John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus, who baptised him into the faith. The unexpected gush of water could also represent this event where Christ emerges from the sea. The bible also claims that all life comes from water. Genesis: 1-31 which confirms Viola’s idea for birth from the gush of water as described earlier with the reference of waters breaking. There is the possibility that this character re-representation of Saint John could be Mary Magdalene with whom Jesus was possibly intimate. Channel Four The Real Da Vinci Code 5 February. Mary Magdalene is regarded as the wife of the historic Jesus who, as the Koran says, did not die on the cross and who came to France to live out His life with Mary and His children by Mary.30

Keeping the video art within a ‘normal setting’ makes the scene more acceptable within society. As who is to say that a male cannot deliver a child, referring to Viola’s reference of midwifery? In a contemporary setting of the twenty first century shouldn’t a man be shown as a bringer of life? Seeing that man plays a significant role in creating it. The Christ like figure’s focus is toward the heavens, as if he is ‘looking’ at God until his frail body cannot support him anymore. He collapses into the arms of the older woman whilst the younger

supports his legs as seen in still four. Here the females have joined forces collaborating in the aid of this apparent feeble man, although their centre of attention is only on the male, they knowingly cooperate while still ignoring each other. This limp lifeless body, which seems dead, although in Viola’s inner eye has just been born, evokes the feeling of a stillbirth. The ambiguity continues and the thought provoking sequence continues.

They remove the Christ like figure from the sepulchre and place him on the ground. Whilst doing this we see the male is not dead as he attempts to support himself by the use of his leg. This detracts from the supposed helplessness of the man and in my opinion also from the art. This is only shown within rehearsal as seen on the Bill Viola and Emergence video and the final sequence shown has had this part edited out so I am unaware whether the young male actually places his foot on the ground.

The older female pays no attention to the male’s indecency or natural state. The young female immediately covers the male as if to shield him from prying eyes, covering his modesty, seen here in still five. This sequence is reminiscent of when the shroud was placed over Jesus in the tomb. Although the Christ like figure is obviously not dead as the younger female only covers half his body, not all of it as one would do with a corpse, clarifying Viola’s ambiguity within this sequence, questioning again whether this is the Deposition or the Resurrection. This part of the sequence evokes the Lamentation. Amazingly the shroud is perfectly dry as it is strategically produced from a leather bag from the side of the wellhead.

Still frame six sees the mother figure gazing at her ‘child’ lovingly, nursing him whilst his head rests on her lap.

Her stroking of his head emulates the motion of a mother nursing her baby. This behaviour is joined by the somewhat sexual nature of the young female who seductively leans over the marble like figure with a longing expression. Her fixed gaze seems unreciprocated as the male is transfixed by the mother figure, although he mimics the caress of the older female by stroking the younger females head. The two women are still distant and no interaction has happened between them other than their cooperation whilst they lifted the man from the well. This separation is multiplied by the obvious difference in their roles. The positions of the characters are on different levels creating an equilateral triangle with the position of their heads indicating the holy trinity. The mother figure elevated above the others symbolising her importance of bringing the male into the world. Although the male is lower than the younger female, his importance is reflected by both females transfixed stares and the fact that she is slightly higher than him her position above his torso makes her appearance seem lower, as if she is insignificant to the family. This insignificance sees the young female take on the role of a handmaiden epitomising again the possible sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. ‘And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.’ Acts 2:1831And the companion of [the Savior is] Mary Magdalene. The [Savior] loved her more than all his disciples, and frequently kissed her on the mouth. The rest of [the disciples] [got close to her to ask]. They told him: “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior responded and

said: “Why do I not love you as I love her?” (Gospel of Philip 63-64). During this whole sequence of incredible video art, one not only recognizes Viola’s initial idea of combining a literal drowning with a lateral birth but also seemingly has experienced some of the most profound moments within Jesus’ life. It is obvious that Viola’s research into Christian mysticism and Islamic Sufism has had a dramatic impact on his work and the fact that even with all the biblical references has given this piece of work a great contemporary feel without imposing his own beliefs.


Although Viola is adamant that he is not interested in restaging and recreating works of art, thou dost protest too much, as the comparisons between them are uncanny. His video art sequences described earlier are clear representations of the poignant masterpieces in which the characters can be clearly identified. In effect he is creating digital paintings, bringing the works of art to life and capturing through the use of time the emotion and feeling evoked in the originals. This seems as if he is filling in the gaps, dictating what happens before and after the actual inspiration. However with the original paintings, you can explore the hidden meanings and emotions, on a more personal intimate level. This is not to say Viola’s work is not powerful, and thought provoking, it stimulated this dissertation. His technical ability, casting of characters, creation of stage sets, beautiful colour and composition is amazing, although I cannot help but think that this recreation of old masters approach seems slightly indolent and clearly not his original idea. Viola does however; through his contemporary, poetic license relate his chosen classic themes to modern day life, effectively helping the viewer to identify the subject matter with great reflection. This method of restoration does have its positive side. It has made the video art medium a more accessible genre, as appreciators of classic art, who would not necessarily recognize the value of this art form, may find themselves with a feeling of great affinity. On the other hand it seems Viola has stopped pushing boundaries unlike technology and settled for an easy life.


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1 (2 of 6)15/11/2004 9:30:50 am

2 (2 of 6)28/2/2005 8:55:57 pm

3 (1 of 3)24/4/2005 11:51:43 pm

4 (1 of 6)14/11/2004 8:02:23 pm

 5 Egon Bunne: “Videokunst zwichen Warenhaus und Television/Video Art Between Department Store and Television”, Catalogue of European Media Art Festival 1993, Osnabrück 1993, p. 307ff cited in (5 of 6)14/11/2004 8:02:23 pm

6 (1 of 5)10/25/2004 9:20:17 AM

7 (1 of 2)10/25/2004 9:43:03 AM

8$artistdetail?VIOLAB (2 of 2)28/2/2005 8:42:41 pm

9 (1 of 2)10/25/2004 9:43:03 AM


11 (1 of 3)24/11/2004 12:17:44 am


13 e

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17 (1 of 8)25/4/2005 3:39:37 pm

18 (1 of 8)25/4/2005 3:39:37 pm

19 (5 of 7)11/3/2005 4:39:05 pm

20 (1 of 8)25/4/2005 3:39:37 pm


22 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel

23 (1 of 2)30/11/2004 2:38:30 pm

24 (2 of 3)24/11/2004 12:17:44 am

25 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel

26 Walsh, John (ed.) (2003). Bill Viola: The Passions. Los Angeles: Getty Publications ISBN 0-89236

27 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel

28 (1 of 2)13/3/2005 10:03:05 pm

29 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel


31 (2 of 7)13/3/2005 9:28:56 pm

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