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For those familiar with contemporary art, Bill Viola’s name is synonymous with Video Art. From multi-channel installations to single-channel theatrical screenings, the moving image has been central to the construction of his work. Perhaps, though, this singular correlation of Viola distinctly with video might actually be a short- sighted evaluation of his oeuvre. Arriving in his artistic practice during the age of electronic media, which he quickly embraced, it would be easy to put his body of work in opposition to those moving image practitioners of the same period that remained in the tangible, physical world of film; a medium in which a frame could be felt in the hand and seen with the eye without any additional assistance.
In reality, Viola’s reliance on the realm of the physical, both in physical space and the use and manipulation of the scientific phenomenon of physics that constitute light waves, sound waves and the electronic signal are maybe more important than the idea of the moving image itself. At its core, Viola’s medium is the manipulation of physical presence in time.