Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Contemporary Art and Technology

Who is Bill Viola?

Bill Viola (1951–) is a contemporary video and sound artist known for exploring the role of technology in his work and his video and audio. One of his most well-known and emotionally powerful pieces is Heaven and Earth (1992), a sculptural installation in which two video monitors face one another. One monitor displays a scene of the artist’s mother on her death bed while the other screen plays a scene of his nearly newborn son, juxtaposing the beginning of life with the end. Because of the highly reflective surface of the screens, the death and birth scenes merge into one. Viola’s larger installations can create a completely immersive environment through video and audio projection—making the viewer a part of the art. Viola’s 1976 work, He Weeps for You, used video to allow gallery visitors to see (and hear) themselves reflected in a water droplet that slowly falls from a brass valve, an image that was magnified on a large screen.


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