Hatsu Yume (First Dream), 1981
NTSC, sound, colour
Hatsu Yume is a work produced in Japan, when Bill Viola was artist in residence at Sony. It is a visual poem, an shifting metaphor perpetually starting over, never tired of being watched. It is an ancestra l dream in which man faces up to the landscape, the image, an unchanging mountain-image, where death rubs up against the movement of life and light confronts darkness.
This "first dream", the Japanese new year, begins with a sunrise and ends in the darkness of the forest. The cycle of one day, broken up by heterogeneous times and places which bloom and then withdraw. Bill Viola creates a whole network of t he invisible: the fish that is caught at night by lantern-light, the man walking in the darkness of the town, light reflecting on the surface of the water or in the camera lens which attracts it and condemns it. Images like the words before language which are repeated in a spiral and memorized before vanishing, always going beyond the strict sense of the metaphor and the symbol.
"I was thinking about light and its relationship with water and life, and also about its opposite, night and death. I thought of those entire cities of artificial light that we have built as refuges from night. In video, the light is like wa ter: a fluid current which passes through the tube. I was also thinking about the water which is the fish's milieu and the light which is man's milieu. Land means death for fish. Darkness means death for man." 1
1 Bill Viola, Electronic Arts Intermix catalog, New York, 1992.