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* 1951; Viola is widely recognized as one of the leading video artists on the international scene. For over 30 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, and works for television broadcast. Viola’s video installations envelop the viewer in image and sound employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity.
Since the early 1970s, Viola has used video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. 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 in terms of technology, content, and historical reach.
He was captain of the “TV Squad,” 5th grade, P.S. 20, Queens, New York and has worked as an independent artist since 1973; Viola received his BFA in Experimental Studios from Syracuse University in 1973. Since then he has produced over 150 works that have been shown in museums, galleries, film festivals, and on public television worldwide; 1972-73 in Florence, Italy, as technical director of production in one of the first video art studios in Europe, and then traveled widely to study and record traditional performing arts in the Solomon Islands, Java, Bali, and Japan; artist-in-residence at WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory, New York, 1976-83; from 1980–81 he lived in Japan with his wife Kira Perov on a Japan/U.S. Cultural Exchange Fellowship, where he studied Buddhism with Zen Master Daien Tanaka and was artist-in-residence at Sony Corporation’s Atsugi research laboratories; instructor, Advanced Video, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 1983; in 1984 an artist-in-residence at the San Diego Zoo in California for a project on animal consciousness; represented the United States at the 46th Venice Biennale in the US Pavilion, 1995; Getty Scholar-in-residence at The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, Los Angeles, 1998; he holds honorary doctorates from Syracuse University (1995), The Art Institute of Chicago (1997), and California Institute of the Arts (2000) among others, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000; lives and works in Long Beach, California.