Theater of Memory, 1985
168 x 276 x 360 inches
Museum purchase with additional funds provided
through prior gift of Ben C. Deane
Bill Viola began his exploration of video as an art form in the early 1970s and has established an international reputation for his compelling and pioneering work in video and electronic media. The Long Beach-based artist incorporates video, sculptural elements, and sound into works that focus the viewer's attention on the processes of perception and human consciousness. In Theater of Memory, viewers encounter a darkened space with a spotlight on the upended roots of a large dead tree lying on the floor. Flickering electronic lanterns on the branches contrast with a cycle
of blurred video images on the wall, and the gentle tinkling of wind chimes is juxtaposed with a grating soundtrack. These images and sounds both stimulate and simulate the workings of the brain and central nervous system, evoking a poetic metaphor for a dream or incomplete recollection.