Polaroid Video Stills, 1973

PAL, sound, colour

This piece is one of Bill Viola's first video works. A direct product of his exploration of electronic music, the image is literally immersed in the signal, the representation of the medium itself. A monitor facing us shows a series of images that are blurred, distorted, interrupted by visual and sonic test patterns. The video material is captured in the raw, emptied of any formal or conceptual suggestion.
In an interview with Les Cahiers du cinéma in February 1984, Bill Viola recounted the origin of this tape: “I was using two machines to make a copy. By accident, I plugged the output into the input of the same machine; when I started recording there was a strange feedback, a signal that wasn't a real signal, but since it ran through the whole studio setup – the mixer, the Chroma Keyer, all the monitors – every time I pressed the button, I got something different. I had never made a tape that good (laughs). I got the feeling that if my best result was noise from a mistake, I needed to learn more.”

Stéphanie Moisdon
Translated by Phoebe Green