Reverse Television - Portraits of Viewers, 1983 - 1984

NTSC, sound, colour

This tape is a record of a project whose aim was to interrupt the continuity of the undifferentiated flow of the television picture, giving viewers the possibility of pondering their own position facing the scree n.
Forty-four people aged from 16 to 93, sitting in front of the camera set at the usual height where the television is, were each to appear for one minute on a public channel (WGBH - Boston), in silence, without being announced by any sort of intro and without even being locatable. These disturbing apparitions were to be shown one an hour, over several weeks, during the time when the channel did its own internal advertising. In fact, these portraits were broadcast for two weeks, five times each day, for thirty seconds, and were signed Bill Viola.
As well as the simplicity of the setup: making the spectator visible, finding oneself as a watcher inside the small screen, in place of the television picture, it is the silence materialized within an extended time which makes the project so significant. Bill Viola imposes this silence against the fury of a television greedy for images and noise, emptied of all expectation.

Stéphanie Moisdon