The following text is the second part of a transcribed conversation between Bill Viola and Valentina Valentini, which took place at Centro Arts Santa Mònica in Barcelona on September 13th 2009, on the occasion of the awarding of the XXI Premi Internacional Catalunya to Viola. Some students asked him questions about his work. Part of the answers provided by the artist are here reproduced. The first part Video is part music part painting has been published in the online journal Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, 3, 2012. The text has been transcribed by Valentina Ajmone Marsan.

Respecting the screen: Juan Downey[1]

I was Juan Downey’s assistant, and I knew him quite well. When he died, I think in the mid-nineties, it was very sad because he died too young. He was Chilean, from Latin America. He was an intellectual, a kind of abstract expressionist intellectual. He was very free and open, he taught me a lot of things when I worked with him and one of them was to respect the screen, the monitor, because it’s our instrument. «A musician doesn’t take his violin and just throw it down, he has a special place for it, he respects it». And he was also very interested in history. He made a beautiful piece which I was actually participating in. An installation about Plato’s cave with people wearing an instrument that reads the electrical impulses in the brain. And he had seven or eight people sitting, trying to meditate with their eyes closed, facing the wall, in front of these people was their own self image on a screen, a monitor, and he put a light at the back of the room, so when the people came in to see this performance their shadows were projected on the wall. Very beautiful piece, just the movement of life and these completely still people, with their eyes closed, like Buddha. He was a very interesting man and artist.

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