Artist Research: Bill Viola
Bill Viola’s is one of the world’s most renowned digital artists. He was born in 1951 in Queens, New York and primarily specializes in video. His innovative style has led to revolutionizing the way the world sees digital art. Viola is able to utilize advancements in video technology and editing in order to create an entire experience that includes sound, video, and emotion through a sense of ambiguous and unusual imagery. His works are displayed across the globe in museums, and are also available online due to his popularity among the contemporary culture.
On his official website this process is described as, “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.” This is inspiring to me as an amateur digital artist because all of his works instill a sense of wonder. They are all visually captivating, mainly due to the slow motion that Viola uses. The concepts he portrays in his video creations are not always clear and simple, so analyzing them can be like a puzzle, leaving things up for interpretation.
In one of his works titled, The Raft, there is a group of people who are being engulfed in water. As the video progresses, the water becomes more intense and the people are being tossed around. You can even hear the sound of waves crashing until suddenly the water comes to a stop. Everybody on the raft is devastated and seems to be grieving. The slow motion in this instance really allows the viewer to see each and everyone one of the subjects negative reactions, which contrasts with the beginning of the video when the group was calm and still.
This is similar to my project because it involves slow motion and shows two extremes after a sudden, yet drastic change. My concept is a white ball of paper getting lit on fire, until it burns and turns black. It mirrors Viola’s piece by having the fire represent the water, and the white ball of paper being the people on the raft before the water came, while the burnt piece is the group after the water had stopped. Observing Viola’s work can lead to a better understanding of not only slow motion, but also storytelling through a strong use of imagery that is edited in a somewhat unconventional manner. Something I might do differently would be to have the videos run for a shorter period of time. Although his videos can put you in a trance, I think our culture today is focused more on immediacy and convenience, so having a 30 second or minute long video may be more ideal.
Viola was trying to convey the power of change and its relation to natural world, in the form of water and human emotion. Although the idea of a raft is to protect us from water, in this case it proves to be powerless against the furious nature of water. Therefore, sometimes things are just out of your control, and as a result we see the nature of a human experience quickly go from serene to distraught. For every action there is a reaction, and in this case Viola wanted to show us how things can change in an instant, but if the experience is negative, it can feel much longer.
Time Distortion Proposal
My idea involves the use of slow motion and a looping time-based work in the form of a video. I plan to use a large piece of white paper, and crumple it up into a ball. Then, I intend to set it on fire and watch as it burns to ashes. The concepts I am trying to convey includes creation and destruction, and how everything from the change in between, to the initial and final transformations can portray a sense of beauty.
The fire is also representative of our life cycle as human beings. We are created and then live our lives in a transcendent nature as we fill ourselves with passion and wonder. The fire burns similar to how our soul, heart, and mind drive our most inner hopes and dreams. However, in the end, everyone has their time, but life goes on, similar to how the loop keeps playing back.
The mediums I will be including are an iPhone camera, slow motion technology, and Photoshop. Eventually, once the project is done I intend to post them online to WordPress.com, and possibly share the material via social media sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram. The process will involve the lighting of the paper ball and recording it through the slow motion video tool. Once this is complete, I can edit it on Photoshop to have it on a loop. I also plan to edit the coloring of the video, and show people a different perspective of fire. In addition, I wanted to flip the video upside down, which goes against the general nature of fire because it is burning downwards and ignoring the laws of physics.