Video Lecture: Bill Viola on "The Tristan Project" Media, Metaphor, and the Productive Unknown

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 8 April 2012 | 2:25:00 pm


Every August, right before the semester begins, Otis College of Art and Design hosts a day of Convocation, where new and returning faculty attend presentations by visiting artists and educators. Convocation 2009 Presenter Bill Viola showed a piece called Fire Woman from a longer project called Tristan and Isolde and spoke about Media, Metaphor, and the Productive Unknown.


Bill Viola  has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art, and in so doing has helped to greatly expand its scope in terms of technology, content, and historical reach. For over 35 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast. Violas video installations—total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound—employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism.