New Television Workshop Collection

New Television Workshop Collection Program MaterialsSpecials, Pilots, and Fills

Video clip of Reverse Television

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Reverse Television

Extent:
1 videocassette of 1 (24 min.) : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 (Betacam SP) (24 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
1 videocassette of 1 (D3) (24 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
1 videocassette of 1 (VHS) (24 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
3 folders

Copyright Date:
1982?

Copyright Holder:
Bill Viola

Artist:
Viola, Bill

Background:
The portraits were all of people from around the Boston area; all were shot in their own living room (or TV room). It was intended that these portraits would appear during programming breaks one at a time with no indication to the viewer of what they were. They were to appear often, so that a viewer who might not recognize what he or she saw once would gradually see more than one and become intrigued.

Scope:
Includes multiple 3/4" screening copies of "Reverse Televisions," many of which contain samples of only a handful of the portraits. Betacam SP and D3 preservation masters and a VHS screening copy have been made from one of these complete tapes.
Two folders contain correspondence, press releases, biographical information, air schedules, newspaper clippings, and listings of viewer portraits. Black-and-white photographic prints of still images from the work exist.

"Reverse Television" was created in the mid-1980's by video artist Bill Viola. The 30-second portraits were about portraiture and the idea of a person staring at the viewer (as the viewer stares at the TV screen). Conceived of as a "micro-series," the work features 42 30-second portraits of television viewers in their living rooms. The portraits appear very formally composed, with attention paid to composition, lighting, and color. The viewers sit quietly, only occasionally making a slight shift in position. No external sound score has been added, so that the only sounds heard are sync sounds that have been heightened. These sounds include viewers' clothing when they move, swallowing, and background noises, such as traffic outside the viewer's home or a dog barking in the distance.



Producer:
Dowling, Susan

Coproducer:
Contemporary Art Television (CAT) Fund, The

Subjects:
Television viewers
Portraits


Genres:
Mini-series
Parodies





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