Bill Viola


In this image I am looking for a homeland. For most of my creative life, I have been searching for the source of the reflections that I see everywhere I look. I instinctively feel this to be the place where I truly live, but in practice it has been very difficult to locate this place in my everyday life. I have found the video camera to be a useful tool in this quest, but the truths it has helped me uncover sometimes seem to be merely reflections of a reflection. Buddhists often compare the human mind to a mirror: even though it continually reflects anything set before it, the actual mirror itself is not affected or modified by the reflections. They call this unchanging place our "naked awareness." Dogen Zenji, the great Japanese Zen master of the thirteenth century, said, "Break down the front door if you want to enter your home." Sometimes violence is necessary. When I see reflections on the surface of the water, I immediately have the impulse to dive in. At other times, though, a gentle touch reveals that the surface and its images are not the opaque barriers they appear to be. Then I realize I can quietly slip in and sing under the water, beneath all reflections and disturbances, and just float way. There, all surfaces become transparent and porous. This is my dream.