Bill Viola is a contemporary video and new media artist, and is considered a defining figure in electronic, sound, and image technology-based art creation. His works use new media technologies to portray fundamental human experiences such as birth, death, and different aspects of consciousness, and can be categorized into three types: conceptual, visual, and a unique combination of the two.
Viola's work often exhibits a sort of painterly quality, as his use of ultra-slow motion video encourages the viewer to sink into to the image and connect deeply to the meanings contained within it. This quality makes his work unusually accessible within a contemporary art context.
As a result, his work often receives mixed reviews from critics, some of whom have noted a tendency toward grandiosity, obviousness, and excess in some of his works. Yet it is this very ambitiousness, his striving toward meaning, and attempts to deal with large, sweeping experiences and aspects of human life, that also make his work appreciated by other critics, his audiences and collectors.
Sharon Lockhart is a photographer and video artist based in Los Angeles whose work explores the relationships between photographic and cinematic methods of storytelling. Themes of her work often include a human subject’s interaction with their environment, and some works, in particular Lunch Break, use ultra-slow motion to bring attention to small details that would often be overlooked within the context of everyday life.
In Lunch Break, Lockhart uses a single, 80-minute tracking shot to portray the gap of time given to workers for their lunch break within a metalworks factory in Bath, Maine. Although in real time the shot lasted barely longer than 11 minutes, Lockhart used slow motion to exaggerate and highlight small, previously-unnoticed details about the workers' lives and break.
The manner in which these two contemporary video artists use slow motion to build and portray artistic intention is striking to me, and something that I may be thinking about for my next project, which will continue upon the trajectory of merging photographic and cinematic techniques, as well as slow motion, in order to convey a narrative or artistic intention to the viewer.