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  • Writer's pictureCristea Zhao

16. Bill Viola, Tiny Deaths (1993)


Bill Viola,

Tiny Deaths (video still), 1993

Video, 3 projections, black and white and sound


The haunting images of death

The transformation from existence to none, the diminishment of the physicality...

De-contextualization in order to foreground the vicissitude.


Distance and nearness are attributes of bodies The journeyings of spirits are after another sort. You journeyed from the embryo state to rationality without footsteps or stages or change of place, The journey of the soul involves not time and place. And my body learnt from the soul its mode of journeying, Now my body has renounced the bodily mode of journeying. It journeys secretly and without form, though under a form. 

Jallaludin Rumi (1207-73), The Masnavi [extracted in Robert Violette ed., Bill Viola, Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House, London 1995] 

The body as the unconscious. The body as mind. Landscape as the body. The mind as landscape. The dissolution of the self in the breakdown of inside/outside. The skin as conceptual membrane. Pain as knowledge. Pain as beauty. Satisfaction as stupification (as catatonia). The mortification of the appetites.

Bill Viola, note,1 January 1987 [in Robert Violette ed., Bill Viola, Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House, London 1995]



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