Statement Bill Viola, 1992

In 1973 I met the musician David Tudor and became part of his “Rainforest” project, which performed in many concerts and installations throughout the seventies. One of the many things I learned from him was understanding sound as a material thing, an entity. My ideas about the visual have been affected by this, in terms of something I call field perception, as opposed to our more common mode of object perception. In many of my videotapes I have used the camera accoding to perceptual or cognitive models based sound rather than light, because I think of all the senses as being unified. I don't consider sound as separate from the image. We usually think of the camera as an eye and the microphone as an ear, but all the senses exist simultaneously in our bodies, interwoven into one system that includes sensory data, neural processing, memory, imagination and all the mental events of the moment. This all adds up to create the larger phenomenon we call experience. This is the real raw material, the medium with I work. Western science decided it was desirable to isolate the senses in order to study them, but much of my work has been aimed at putting it all back together. So field perception is the awareness or sensing of an entire space at once. It is based os a passive, receptive position, as in the way our eye works and in the narrowing function of human attention. This perception is linked more to awaress than to momentary attention. Think of how you experience events in a dream or memory - through what we call the mind's eye. Usually, in recalling a scene describing a dream, we do so from a mysterious, detached third point of view. We “see” the scene, and “ourselves within it”, from some other position, quite often off to the side and slightly above all the activity. This is the original camera angle, it existed long before there was such a thing as a camera. It is the point of view that goes wandering at night, that can fly above mountains, walk through walls and return safely by morning. The notion that the camera is some surrogate eye, and certainly not normal human stereoscopic vision with integration to the brain. In function, the camera acts more like what we call consciousness. Maybe the mating of the video system with the computer that is curently underway will yield a close approximation of true vision. I have learned so much from my work with video and sound, and it goes far beyond simply what I need to apply within my profession. The real investigation is that of life and of being itself; the medium is just a tool in this investigation. This is why I am disturbed by the emphasis on technology, particularly in America the infatuation with “Star Wars” high-tech gadgets. This is also why I don't like the label “video artist”. I consider myself to be an artist. I happen to use video because I am living in the last part of the twentieth century, and the medium of video (or television) is clearly the most relevant visual art form in contemporary life. The thread running through all art has always been the same. Technologies change, but it is always imagination and desire that end up being the real limitations. One of my sources of inspiration has been the thirteenth century persian poet and mystic, Rumi. He once wrote, “New organs of perception come into being as a result of necessity. Therefore increase your necessity so that you may increase your perception”.

ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL. "9th Videobrasil International Festival": 21st to 27th September 1992, pp.32-34, São Paulo, Brazil, 1992.