Bill Viola

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Bill Viola (born January 25, 1951 in the United States) is a contemporary video artist. He is considered a leading figure in the generation of artists whose artistic expression depends upon electronic, sound, and image technology in New Media.[1] His works focus on the ideas behind fundamental human experiences such as birth, death and aspects of consciousness.[2]



Viola grew up in Queens, New York, and Westbury, New York. He attended P.S. 20 Clinton Hill School, in Flushing, where he was captain of the TV Squad. On vacation in the mountains with his family, he nearly drowned in a lake, an experience he describes as “… the most beautiful world I’ve ever seen in my life” and “without fear,” and “peaceful” [3]

In 1973, Viola graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor in Fine Arts. He studied in the Experimental Studios of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, including the Synapse experimental program, which evolved into CitrusTV.

His first job on graduation was as a video technician at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. From 1973 to 1980, he studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the new music group "Rainforest" (later called "Composers Inside Electronics"). From 1974-1976, Viola worked as technical director at Art/Tapes/22, a pioneering video studio in Florence, Italy where he encountered video artists Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci. From 1976-1983, he was artist-in-residence at WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory in New York. In 1976 and 1977, he traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts.

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