Monday, June 9, 2014

Bill Viola - The lucid dream

Recently a friend of mine - Arno Heeren - was doing some researches on icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and in the infinity universe internet is, he landed on Alienation > this post < . Not only does it reveal our similar visual tastes (I asked Arno to do my cover for Melody For Aliens) but also that my blog still exists somewhere in the web. Therefore, I decided to write again about my cultural experiences when it's worth it. And the first french retrospective of Bill Viola at the Grand Palais worths it a million times.

The first time I heard about him was in my first year of art school during my "art video" class. Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik and Viola were often cited as precursors considering that the video could be anything other than a new technology. Early on, Viola admits the influence of Marshall Mc Luhan "The medium is the message" over his works. Of course, these were words and what I had in front of my eyes was for instance "The Space between the teeth". For some reasons, watching the artist facing the camera and suddenly starting shouting didn't leave me a deep impression...but rather confirmed my doubts that I was in some kind of secret sect of psychopaths.

However one year later, wandering in my beautiful and beloved city of Venice with my dad (best art exhibitions partner ever) we stopped by a little church where Bill Viola was showing this piece:
Ocean without a shore
Entering this Ocean, we stood in a darkened church before three large video monitors that showed people approaching slowly and singly from behind an invisible wall of rushing water. Once they've crossed this unseen barrier, the hazy grainy tones silhouettes transform into full color as if they've been brought to life. Vulnerable, striking, intense, this is where I met Viola for the first time. A slow motion aesthetic that turns each emotive glance into a thousand words. His spiritual vision has often led him to exhibit in holy places. To him "museums work as churches of cathedrals: they indicate all that we inspire and help us to turn the material world in a personal vision"

The Veiling
Viola is not just a video artist. He engages you with his installations, you're part of it. It's obvious in the veiling piece. Images of a man and a woman moving through dark landscapes are projected face to face through nine suspended translucent veils. I felt instantly like I was floating in a dream.

Catherine's room

A day, a year, unfolds across five screens. From sunrise to sunset, from spring to winter, we discover a woman in her every day activities. Viola wrote in his notebook "for the woman who takes confort in herself, who finds companionship in an empty room". As I dedicate an OBSESSION with women's rooms as my early paintings and new paintings suggest but also my new video clip (first song in french) I couldn't feel more related to this particular work.

The Dreamers
The Dreamers is its most recent piece in which he replays an episode of his life. When he was six years old, Viola nearly drowned and realized in the depth of the water the immensity of the world surrounding. Peacefully immersed in the water, beings of all ages float like if they were about to be baptized. Water is a constant feature of Viola's artworks and when I think of his use of slow motion, it seems that his sight is always blurry, dreamy, like if was always filming underwater.

2014. Most of us have iPhones, computers and other devices to connect at the speed of light to anyone, anything at anytime. However Viola succeeds in this exhibition in stopping the flow, the flux and maybe the time. People are wandering from one room to another in a kind of meditation, self and common meditation. This picture I made of the last room is the perfect illustration.

Bathing in a sensorium of light and sound, Viola will immerse you into a lucid dream.

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