WGBH Openvault

Artist's Showcase; Four Songs; Bill Viola's Space Between the Teeth

Part of New Television Workshop.

This sequence from Bill Viola's "Four Songs" features " Space Between the Teeth." Viola is seated in an armchair against a stark background, his silence punctuated by screams. The camera pulls back to reveal that he is at the end of a long hallway. As he screams, a series of quick edits pulls the viewer closer and closer to him, revealing the inside of his mouth. In the scene that follows, the camera pans across a kitchen interior, settling at last on the sink. A man comes in, washes some dishes and exits, leaving the tap running water. A still photo showing the chair at the end of the hallway is thrown into a body of water, then washed away by the waves created by an off-camera boat. Approximate date: 1977


License Clip

Untranscribed item: Request Transcription

Series
Artist's Showcase
Program
Four Songs
Title

Bill Viola's Space Between the Teeth

Series Description

Anthology series of experimental, avant garde video productions. Program titles: "DANCE FOR CAMERA - SHOW I: DISTRICT I and PALE COOL, PALE WARM;" "DANCE FOR CAMERA - SHOW II: TZADDICK;" "DANCE FOR CAMERA - SHOW III: GEORGE'S HOUSE;" "SELECTED WORKS - 1974 - 1975;" "THE GIRL WITH THE FLAXEN HAIR;" "SET OF COINCIDENCE;" "ALL ACROSS BOSTON;" " UNTITLED PERFORMANCE BY ROBERT GOLDMAN;" "QUIDDATAS;" "TELEPORTRAITS;" "FOUR SIDED TAPES;" "AMY LOWELL;" "PRIMORDIAL SOUP;" "HOWARD;" "THIRD TAPE;" "PAST FANTASIES;" "SEMI BUFFET;" "EAST ENDED TAPE;" "A COLOR PIECE FOR TV;" "CONTEXTS AND ONE AND MANY;" "THREE TRANSITIONS;" "CITY SCAPE;" "OUT OF TIME;" "NO TITLE." Series release date: 1975

Program Description

Viola’s “Four Songs” is composed of four distinct segments, which deal with the passing of time and the impact of gestures and activities:

“Junkyard Levitation” -- A figure lies down, surrounded by the refuse of a junkyard. Slowly, a shadow passes over his body as an unseen magnet causes the metal scraps in front of him to reach towards the sky, mysteriously standing upright. When this activity is complete, the figure stands up and walks away, just as a train is passing in the distance.

“Songs of Innocence” -- A classroom of schoolchildren perform two musical numbers with their teacher on the lawn in front of a large building. Some of the children strum on guitars as accompaniment to the singing, while others perform gestures to illustrate key images in the lyrics. The children depart from the area, leaving behind a small floral arrangement and candle. The camera rests on this vacated space for quite some time, as day turns into night. Occasionally, an airplane passes in the sky above. The schoolchildren return to the surroundings like ghosts, their images and sounds faintly superimposed.

“Space Between the Teeth” -- Bill Viola is seated in an armchair against a stark background, his silence punctuated by screams. The camera pulls back to reveal that he is at the end of a long hallway. As he screams, a series of quick edits pulls the viewer closer and closer to him, revealing the inside of his mouth. In the scene that follows, the camera pans across a kitchen interior, settling at last on the sink. A man comes in, washes some dishes and exits, leaving the tap running water. A still photo showing the chair at the end of the hallway is thrown into a body of water, then washed away by the waves created by an off-camera boat.

“Truth Through Mass Individuation” -- A body of water, which is traversed in the distance by a bridge for automobiles, is seen in various stages. The shoreline changes; day turns to night and then back to day again. A figure who has faded into the landscape through all of this leaps from a rock into the water. Pigeons grazing on a city street are interrupted by a man who drops a cymbal, causing them to scatter. A man walks through a street with a rifle, stopping to fire it into the air. A figure seated in a darkened parking lot gets up and walks away, revealing an occupied baseball stadium in the background.

Asset Type

Clip

Media Type

Video

Subjects
Video art
Experimental films
Viola, Bill, 1951-
Topics
Film and Television
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Citation
Chicago: “Artist's Showcase; Four Songs; Bill Viola's Space Between the Teeth,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 2, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_EAA29AB3346F4DADA750E940D19AF99D.
MLA: “Artist's Showcase; Four Songs; Bill Viola's Space Between the Teeth.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 2, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_EAA29AB3346F4DADA750E940D19AF99D>.
APA: Artist's Showcase; Four Songs; Bill Viola's Space Between the Teeth. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_EAA29AB3346F4DADA750E940D19AF99D
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.