of the things the camera taught me was to see the world, the same world that my eye sees, in its metaphoric, symbolic state.
This condition is, in fact, always present, latent in the world around us."
Bill Viola is
the leading video artist today. His use of state-of-the-art technology shows his mastery and adaptability in an ever changing
art medium. Viola studied at Syracuse University where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art. He also was awarded
Doctorates from the Institute of Art in Chicago, California College of Arts abd Crafts, Massachusetts College of Art, California
Institute of the Arts, University of Sunderland, and the Royal College of Art. Although it maybe thought that someone that
works in a video media starts a project by making videos, however, throughout his career he has developed his ideas by writing
his concepts down in notebooks.
Without question, Viola is one of the biggest influences in video art
from 1970s until today. His works, as a whole, look at things that everyone can relate to: the ideas of birth, death, religion,
and so on. This was a trait that was conceptually passed down from his mentor and teacher, Nam June Paik. Viola began his professional career as one of Paik’s assistants. It would also explain some of Viola’s influence
by oriental philosophy, cultural diversity, and the important sound elements in his work.
The art of Viola has been seen in many different venues around
the world, as well as created for many different groups of people. For example, his video installations have been backdrops
for Nine Inch Nails rock concerts as well as a Richard Wagner classical music performance at the National Opera of Paris.
He is currently working on a first of its kind, permanent video altarpiece for St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Viola
had created The Messenger and it was a video that traveled to several churches in England.
When it came to St. Paul’s in 2004, church officials contemplated the idea of a permanent installation there. Viola
is creating two plasma-screen altarpieces based on themes of Mary and the martyrs of Jesus. This is a unique work because
it is both a piece of contemporary art and also a devotional object. Like the alters of old, Viola is planning on adding wing
panels on his screens that will allow it to close. The project is scheduled to be finished in 2012. This is not his only project
in the works. He’s also making a video game.
In his experimental video game, The Night Journey, Viola is creating an interactive virtual
game that focuses on creating an experience that leads the game player toward enlightenment. "It’s
a game that rewards you for slowing down and for introspection." There are points in the game that the controller will
not work because the idea of giving power to another is a part of most spiritual traditions. Players will have “dreams”
based on how they have played the game to that point. The longer they play, the more features that will be revealed in the
dream sequences as well as in the actual game play. He is debating weather he should release the game for museums or as a
commercial video game.
Viola is married to, Kira Perov, who is
his executive director on his many projects. They live in Long Beach, California with their two children.