In the four works that comprise the Quintet series (The Quintet of the UnseenThe Quintet of the AstonishedThe Quintet of Remembrance and The Quintet of the Silent), a group of five people are seen standing close together as they undergo a wave of intense emotion that threatens to overwhelm them. As the sequence begins, their neutral expressions begin to change as the emotion, different for each person, overtakes the group and builds to an extreme level. After some minutes it finally subsides, leaving each person drained and exhausted.

The five individuals experience the rising emotional energy independently, with no acknowledgement or direct interaction with their companions, other than occasional physical contact due to their close proximity. The group stands before a neutral background with no suggestion of the outside world. In the course of the event they do not move from their original positions and no one leaves the frame. Extreme slow-motion playback makes visible the smallest details and subtle nuances of expression, creating a subjective, psychological space where time is suspended for performer and viewers alike.1.

1. Bill Viola: The Passions, John Walsh ed., The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, p72


Bill Viola

Bill Viola