(Above) Bill Viola's Fall Into Paradise
Exhibition: Bill Viola, The Public, West Bromwich, July 21 – October 17 2010
The 1960s saw the rise of video art, starting when Nam June Paik filmed Pope Paul VI's procession through New York City using a Sony Portpak.
Playing the footage back in a café in Greenwich Village, Paik discovered a style which became known as visual underground art, provoking artists to experiment with single-channel and installation video art.
American artist Bill Viola – one of the leading figures in the new media genre – uses installation art to focus on universal human experiences: birth, death and the unfolding of consciousness.
Since the 1970s, Viola has had shows at the National Gallery in London and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a rare coup for the Midlands, his latest work is now heading to The Public.
Fall Into Paradise sees lovers Tristan and Isolde experience such depths of feeling for each other that the material world becomes unbearable for them.
Viola’s ten-minute film visualises how their love cannot be contained in flesh and blood and how their spirits drift into the void as a speck of light slowly expands and evolves into a male and female form and the couple are propelled into another world of mesmerising beauty.
The show also features as a backdrop to Wagner's opera, Tristan and Isolde, which is set to premiere at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham this September.