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  Bill Viola
   
 
Reverse Television - Portraits of Viewers
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Reverse Television - Portraits of Viewers

 
Bill Viola is no stranger to broadcast television and is considered a pioneer in the medium of video art. He is now known internationally as one of today's leading artists. He 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.

Reverse Television was created in the mid-1980's. The 30-second portraits were about portraiture and the idea of a person staring at the viewer (as the viewer stares at the TV screen). Conceived of as a "micro-series," the work features 42 30-second portraits of television viewers in their living rooms. The portraits appear very formally composed, with attention paid to composition, lighting, and color. The viewers sit quietly, only occasionally making a slight shift in position. No external sound score has been added, so that the only sounds heard are sync sounds that have been heightened. These sounds include viewers' clothing when they move, swallowing, and background noises, such as traffic outside the viewer's home or a dog barking in the distance.

The portraits were all of people from around the Boston area; all were shot in their own living room (or TV room). It was intended that these portraits would appear during programming breaks one at a time with no indication to the viewer of what they were. They were to appear often, so that a viewer who might not recognize what he or she saw once would gradually see more than one and become intrigued. [wgbh]

Distributor
Electronic Arts Intermix
C&S Entertainment
Facets Multimedia, Inc.
Video Data Bank

Galleries
Haunch of Venison, London
James Cohan Gallery, New York
Kukje Gallery, Seoul

Producer
New Television Workshop, WGBH, Boston

www.billviola.com
 
 
 
   
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