I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola
Yale University Press
Bill Viola has long been on my lists or artists to check out and this tome proved to be a formidable entry point to access his body of work because it is based on his survey show, “I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola”.
For the uninitiated, Bill Viola works with a range of media and one of his foci is the dance with video art and subtle sound elements that not only enhance the visual parts of his installations but often are separate pieces of art in themselves.
The book with its essays does a good job illumination Viola’s cluster of works, focusing on bigger pieces, immersive experiences and different ways of looking at the moving image.
Needless to say that the importance of sound is difficulty to catch in book form, however, it is expertly weaved into the portrayal of how Viola channels the alchemy of his early childhood memories into large screen, slow-motion works, gorgeous colours and mystical iconography.
Despite Viola’s often soft approach, there is something immensely powerful that pervades every facet of his art – a power that comes about organically in a non-forceful and non-doctrinaire way.
Be it silent mourning or ecstatic bliss, Viola’s art has been likened to religious experiences by his aficionados and this tome does an excellence job highlighting the recurring emphasis on slow motion and the awareness of being. Given that, it is not further wondrous that Viola prefers to exhibit his art in cathedrals and churches.
Viola’s art likes from the viewer’s interaction with it and this catalogue whets one’s appetite to move closer to the man and his emissions in their intended natural surroundings and original scenarios they were meant to be embedded in.