New Television Workshop Collection

New Television Workshop Collection Program MaterialsNew Television

Video clip of I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like

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I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like

1 videoreel of 1 (89 min.) : sd., col. ; 1 in.
1 videocassette of 1 (Betacam SP) (89 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
1 videocassette of 1 (D3) (89 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
1 videocassette of 1 (VHS) (89 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
2 videocassettes of 2 (89 min.) : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
2 videocassettes of 2 (89 min.) : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 2 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 folder

Copyright Date:

Copyright Holder:
Bill Viola

Materials Date:

Viola, Bill

"I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like," 1986, was created by video artist Bill Viola for The Contemporary Art Television (CAT) Fund with support from numerous other agencies. It was broadcast as Episode 309 of the 1987 season of "New Television."

Includes a 1" master, Betacam SP and D3 preservation masters, and VHS and 3/4" screening copies.
One folder contains newspaper clippings, press releases, and exhibition notes.

The work juxtaposes images of animals, both wild and domestic, and natural environments with human activity as it takes place in an apartment and during a fire walking ceremony in Fiji. Documentary-style footage is combined with staged events. Despite the piece's lack of a traditional narrative, it bears some relationship to nature works. The credits indicate that the work is divided into five named sections, but the beginnings and endings of these sections seem deliberately blurred. The juxtaposition of images, along with the title, suggests some comparison between human and animal behavior, but no single or clear relationship is defined.

Images included in each section are as follow:
Il Corpo Scuro (The dark body): animals and natural environments are seen up close and at a distance The Language of Birds: exotic birds are filmed The Night of Sense: a man is seated at a desk in an apartment, studying books that seem to be on the subject of anatomy; a cat howls; the man moves around the apartment, eats a cooked fish, and makes a mug of tea; close-ups of objects in the apartment and a hatching egg are interspersed; the man leaves the mug on the table, and an elephant enters from behind a backdrop to remove it Stunned by the Drum: close-ups of dogs barking at the camera evolve into a succession of quick images that include zebras, moving cars, people, landscapes, and previously viewed scenes The Living Flame: scenes of a Fiji fire-walking ceremony.

Viola, Bill

Contemporary Art Television (CAT) Fund, The

American Film Institute
National Endowment
Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities
New Works Program for the Arts
ZDF, Das Kleine Fernsehspiel
Western States Regional Media Arts

Rites and ceremonies
Natural areas

Nature works

See Also:
New Television, Episode 309 (1987)

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