Artist Bill Viola uses Panasonic Plasmas to Dissect the Human Experience

Bill Viola’s show, “Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures”, seeks to approach the meaning of life and human experience with nine different works. As a seasoned video artist, Viola weaves a world where AV technology plays a principle role in terms of audience experience and artistic expression.

A piece titled The Dreamers” shows people sleeping and submerged in water. Video is shown on seven different plasmas in a dark room while calming water sounds play in the background. The faces behind the screens almost express thoughts in their subconscious state; it’s a dramatic and purposeful use of sound, space, video and technology.

In this piece, AV technology is essential to the experience as much as the water guiding it. For Viola, water is everything and mediates expression; artistic, personal, and the collective human voice. Viola compares water to electricity and suggests it’s a metaphor for humanities movement and the inter-connectivity of the global culture, something he wouldn’t be able to express fully without multiple looping videos placed around the galleries space. Check out video of “The Dreamers” here:

With video art, AV technology is intrinsic to the process. Panasonic plasmas contribute by providing effortless motion and color accuracy, but may not seem to add anything significant to the artistic statement.

That is not the case for the piece, “The Chapel of Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures”, which questions the significance of daily accomplishments. A 3×3 plasma display shows figures perpetually repeating various activities. One screen shows a man continuously digging hole and filling it back up again. The central screen shows a glass bowl being filled with water from a jug, after it is full it slowly seeps out through a crack until it is empty, then it is refilled again.

The presentation of multiple screens invites viewers to dwell in the psychosis of human experience. According to the gallery the exhibit displays the distracted and often futile attempts of people trying to objectively understand life.  Each screen grabs the eyes for only a few fleeting moments before being pulled to another, similar to how big life questions are futilely mulled over and then discarded for easier thoughts.

Viola’s show ran at Blain|Southern, a London gallery, June 5- July 27, 2013, and used nine Panasonic 42-inch full HD 1080p plasmas.


Chapel of Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures1








*photos courtesy