Video Spaces: Eight Installations
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
June 22-September 12, 1995

installation photo

Bill Viola

Slowly Turning Narrative. 1992

Computer-controlled, two-channel video/sound installation with two video projectors and two sound systems. Images are projected onto a freestanding wall, 9 1/4" x 11' 3/4", that rotates on its vertical axis. Commissioned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Collection of the artist. Photo: Gary McKinnis, courtesy of the artist.

"In the center of a large, darkened room, an oversize screen slowly rotates on its vertical axis. One side of the screen is mirrored; the other is matte. Two video projectors face the screen from opposite sides of the room. One projects a black-and-white video of a man's face seen in close-up, in harsh light, appearing distracted and at times strained. The other projects a series of color scenes--young children moving by on a carousel, a house on fire, a carnival at night, kids playing with fireworks--that are characterized by continuous motion and turbulent light and color. The black-and-white imagery is accompanied by the sound of a voice rhythmically chanting a long list of phrases descriptive of states of being and individual actions, the color images by the ambient sounds associated with each scene.

"As the screen rotates, its angle in relation to each projector alternately narrows and widens, warping the projected beams and spilling images onto the surrounding walls. The mirrored side of the screen sends distorted reflections--indistinct, gossamer forms--cascading over every surface in the room. In addition, viewers see images of themselves as well as the room around them reflected in the mirror as the screen revolves.

"Slowly Turning Narrative is concerned with the enclosing nature of the self-image and potentially infinite (and therefore unattainable) states of being, all revolving around the still center of the self. The room, and everyone in it, becomes in effect a continually shifting projection screen, encompassing images and reflections, all locked into the regular cadences of the chanting voice and the constant rotation of the screen. The entire space becomes an interior for the revelations of a constantly turning mind absorbed with itself. The confluences and conflicts of image, content, emotion, and intent perpetually change as the screen slowly turns."--Bill Viola

artist photo
Bill Viola is a formalist who has developed a distinctive visual vocabulary to investigate the most primal human emotions. Major exhibitions of Viola's work have been held throughout Europe and North America, including a 1987 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. His work was recently chosen as part of the U.S. representation at the 1995 Venice Biennale. Photo: Kira Perov, courtesy of the artist.

Return to Video Spaces Home Page

[ Barry/Miskell ] [ Douglas ] [ Furuhashi ] [ Hill ]
[ Marker ] [ Odenbach ] [ Oursler ] [ Viola ]
[ London, Introduction ] [ Delany, "High Involvement" ]

Copyright 1995 The Museum of Modern Art, New York