Viola, Bill - by David Morgan
Spirit and Medium: The Video Art of Bill Viola
by David Morgan
In Passage, a 1987 video installation by artist Bill Viola, you walk twenty-one feet through a narrow, unlit corridor to arrive in a small room. Once there, you face a wall composed entirely of a rear-projection screen upon which appears the videotape of a young child's birthday party. The entire wall is filled by gigantic faces and bodies that move in extreme slow motion (one sixteenth normal speed) along the wall, and the sounds of the party are so highly amplified that they reverberate within the body of the viewer. The images are so magnified that the scene blurs into ever-shifting patterns of color and the horizontal scanning lines that comprise the video screen.