Since he began producing video art in the early
1970s, Bill Viola has explored ways to manipulate and restructure
our perception of time and space through electronic media. In
such video installations as Room for St. John of the Cross
(1983), Viola has demonstrated the narrative potential of "dataspace,"
a territory of information in which all data exists in a continual
present, outside the traditional definitions of time and space,
available for use in endless juxtapositions.
Viola arrives at the notion of dataspace by considering
the spaces that have been constructed over the ages to record
cultural history in architectural form, from Greek temples to
Gothic cathedrals. He compares these "memory palaces" to the
personal computer, with its capacity for storage, instant access
and information retrieval. The computer has introduced the "next
evolutionary step," Viola claims, in which ancient models of
memory and artistic expression are reborn through the fluid
processes of information technologies.