Knocking at an Empty House

January 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

bill.viola.theQuintetoftheAstonished,2000

From the essay ‘The Porcupine and the Car’  in Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House: Writings 1973-1994 by Bill Viola (1995) (Thanks to Julie at Unreal Nature.)

Artists have known for a long time that the most interesting connections in things involve areas of low, or ambiguous, information, so-called “gaps” in recognition. This is the time of involvement, of participation by the viewer, in a work of art. The process of learning itself demands that initially one must be confronted with something one does not understand. René Magritte wrote: “People who look for symbolic meanings fail to grasp the inherent poetry and mystery of the image. No doubt they sense this mystery, but they wish to get rid of it. They are afraid. By asking ‘What does this mean?’ they express a wish that everything be understandable. But if one does not reject the mystery, one has quite a different response. One asks other things.”

(Image: Still from video,  “Quintet of the Astonished,” 2000, by Bill Viola.)

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