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Bill Viola’s video art philosophy

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2021. Vol. 10. No. 3. Pp. 155-161.
Get the full text (Russian)
Rostova N. N.
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Building 4, 27 Lomonosovsky Avenue, 119991 Moscow, Russia


The author of the article studies the philosophical foundations of modern art and substantiates the idea that video art destroys the subject-object structure of classical metaphysics. Analyzing the connection between video installations and altarpiece painting, the author shows that in the attempt to answer the question “What is human?” modern art replaces Christian anthropology with the anthropology of the four elements, corresponding to ancient Greek philosophy. Human is understood here as an organic element of the cosmos. The concept of human as a free being is replaced by the understanding of human as a natural being. At this point, the philosophy of video art intersects with two interrelated trends in modern philosophy - the posthumanist one, which rejects the idea of the exclusivity of human existence and humanizes the non-human world; and the naturalistic one, which reduces human to biological causality. Contrary to the opinion of art theorists who see a direct relationship between Renaissance art and video art, the author shows that there is an essential opposition behind the external similarity. Video art works are based on the removal of semantic subjects of classical painting and icon painting. The slow-motion style used by video art shows the artists desire to algorithmize contemplation and justify the technical attitude of a person to himself.


  • • human
  • • posthumanism
  • • new materialism
  • • cosmism
  • • contemporary art
  • • altarpiece painting
  • • icon
  • • contemplation
  • • modern cinema
  • • visual turn


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