Sculpting time – Bill Viola

“Sculpting time”: is how Bill Viola defines his art. “Time is the basic material of film and video. The mechanics of it may be cameras, film stock, and tape, but what you are working with is time. You are creating events that are going to unfold, on some kind of rigid channel that is embodied in a strip of tape or celluloid, and that thing is coiled up as a potential experience to be unrolled. In a certain way it is like a scroll, which is one of the most ancient forms of visual communication.” ¹

This time is something Bill Viola likes to extend, repeat and decelerate — as if to show us all its contours, all its forms.

It is an aesthetic not unrelated to the practice of meditation, which focuses on the present moment, zeroing in on hte subject on order to perceive it more precisely. What can I see? For the artist, the camera is that second eye that “re-teaches us how to see” and addresses the world beyond, or beneath, appearances.

(my italics)

Jérôme Neutres in Bill Viola – Album Bilangue de L’Exposition au Grand Palais, Paris 2014

¹ “The Universe continues to be in the present tense,” in Viola, Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House, writings 1973–1994, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1995, p. 253.

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