April 12, 2003: There are two plasma screens mounted horizontally on the wall of an art museum in Germany. Each high definition video screen carries an image of snow-covered mountains, a jagged horizon of granite, snow and blue sky. In the fore ground stretches sagebrush, spiny cactus and brave spring flowers here and there. On each screen the viewer sees a dark pinpoint that over the next ten minutes grows larger until recognizable as a human figure walking across the brush towards the camera. One is male, the other female. The figures arrive in front of the camera filling the screen, their faces etched with emotion. Each turns abruptly and retraces his or her steps. Eventually, the figures are reduced to the same dark pinpoints and the screens fade to black. Then the screens fill with light again and the figures repeat their trek.
Bill Viola, the foremost video artist in the world for the last thirty years, has created another video installation. For the second time, he has used what is to us the familiar Sierra Nevada landscape and the inspiration of Chinese landscapes to do it.
That is the concept and the filming has been done in Lone Pine over a five-day shoot with a crew of about 20. Bill's personal creative process will determine the final vision yet to be completed.Bill's name is not a household word yet, but it should be. He is on the cutting edge of the art world, exploring and defining the artistic mediums of the future. He has been recognized and feted across the world. Oddly, much of his art over the last twenty years has been in electronic media that have only had relative short lives. But that is part of the point of his art and choices of mediums; they pass before our eyes at the speed of light and are gone. However, ironically many of his pieces have employed a high resolution slow motion to allow the audience to see minutia and to ponder the meaning of his work.
The working title of the Lone Pine piece is "The Immortals." and comes out of the Taoist tradition. Bill's biography states "Since the early 1970's, Viola has used video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. Clearly at odds with the cynicism of his age, his works focus on universal human experiencees- birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness; and have roots in both eastern and western art, as well as islamic Sufism, Christian mysticism, and Zen Buddhism.
He has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art, and in so doing has helped to expand its scope both in terms of technology, content and historical reach." Bill Viola has a large installation at the Getty Museum in L. A. through the end of April. We are honored to have had such a prestigious artist working here in Lone Pine.
January12, 2003: The Museum recently received four wonderful gifts for its collection. Bob Slater of Lone Pine contributed two props from his personal collection. The first is a wooden pail that he saw fall off the back of a covered wagon during the filming of the famous wagon chase scene from HOW THE WEST WAS WON. He reports he came back several days; no one had retrieved the prop, and filming was completed, so he picked it up. A second prop, a handmade wooden child’s play chair from the film THUNDER IN THE SUN, starring Susan Hayward and Jeff Chandler, was also given to the Museum by Bob.