A major player in the field of video art, Bill Viola has made a significant contribution to its development and ascension as a primary form of expression in contemporary art. During his studies, he met many video art pioneers including Nam June Paik and Bruce Nauman. Viola was the first artist to visit the Sony Corporation’s research labs in Atsugi, Japan, in 1981, and has since then focused his attention on the medium of video, but has also produced video installations, immersive sound environments and musical performances. His work is characterized by recurrent images and themes such as water, fire, life, death and solitude, and by its ability to disturb as much as enthrall. Viola’s work explores the phenomenon of perception, and addresses issues of a metaphysical nature that evoke existential, even spiritual experiences.

The Sleepers, 1992, 7 metal barrels, 7 black and white video monitors, 7 videos, and 385 gallons of water, 1/2.
© Bill Viola • Photo: Louis Lussier