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Ascension

Artist: Bill Viola (American, born 1951)
Date: 2000
Medium: color video projection on wall in dark room; stereo sound
Dimensions:
Running Time: 10minutes
Image (projected size): 251 × 335 cm. (98 13/16 × 131 7/8 in.)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust; Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Art Center, 2001.1
Accession number: 2001.1
Classification: video
Label TextViola is widely acknowledged as the leading video artist on the international scene. His video installations -- total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound -- employ sophisticated state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. A room-sized installtion, Ascension is a significant example of the artist's approach. In this video work, a fully clothed male figure jumps with thunderous sound into a body of dark water, only to descend slowly into darkness. Respondoing to the ideas of spiritual redemption and the cycles of birth and death, Viola's use of state-of-the-art technology and visual elegance crates a consuming emotional experience. Source: DMAC NEWS May June 2001
Bill Viola is a pioneer in the art of video installation. Working with technology that utilizes sight and sound, he creates sculptures of experience. In Ascension, viewers are engulfed in a dark ocean-like atmosphere and presented with a visual narrative of the moments before, during, and after the jarring, visceral occurrence of a man plunging into water. The work is infused with aspects of both the natural and spiritual worlds, particularly Christianity. The sinking, solitary figure, with his straight torso and outstretched arms, alludes to the crucifixion of Christ, while the rising figure metaphorically describes his ascent into heaven. The transformation of the body into a multitude of tiny rising bubbles reflects the sublime nature of this work.
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