Bill Viola

Bill Viola, The Quintet of the Astonished, 2000, Color video rear projection on screen mounted on wall in dark room, Projected image size: 4 ft 7 in × 7 ft 10 in (1.4 × 2.4 m); room dimensions variable, 15:20 minutes, Performers: John Malpede, Weba Garretson, Tom Fitzpatrick, John Fleck, Dan Gerrity, Courtesy of Bill Viola Studio, Purchased by Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen 2004

The Quintet of the Astonished

The changes in the facial expressions and body language of these five people are almost imperceptible. Huddled together in a group, each acts out a succession of strong, contradictory emotions, like sadness, anger, fear, and joy. Inspired by stirring portrayals of the Passion by the old masters, many of Bill Viola’s video works are devoted to the expression and representation of emotions.

For The Quintet of the Astonished, the artist filmed the actors with a high-speed camera that takes 240 pictures per second. Viola then stretched the one minute of original material to 15 minutes. Facial expressions and gestures are thereby slowed down to the extreme, lending visual intensity to all the nuances of pain,  astonishment, and joy.

Bill Viola was born in 1951 in New York City (USA).