“Hatsu-Yume” is Japanese for the first prophetic dream in the new year. For Bill Viola, this is an archetypal dream, a dream that any person could have. Bill Viola made this video work in Japan, where he lived for 18 months, immersing himself in the culture and Zen Buddhism. We see images of Japanese nature and everyday culture: a sunset, bamboo forests, rocks, a fish market, fishing boats. Viola zooms in, slows down, freezes and distorts the images and sound to create a hypnotic effect. The viewer becomes aware that things are more than they seem. As in much of Viola’s previous work, time plays an important role. Water and light are frequently employed as metaphors to express the passing of time and themes such as life and death. In Viola’s words: “I was thinking about light and its relation to water and to life, and also its opposite — darkness or the night and death. Video treats light like water — it becomes fluid on the video tube. Water supports the fish like light supports man. Land is the death of the fish — darkness is the death of man.”
© Bill Viola 2005

Makers

Collection

Time-based media

Production date

1981

Library

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Material

video, colour, sound

Object number

CA 169_157