Hatsu Yume (First Dream)

1981, 57:33 min, color, sound, HD video

Viola writes: "I was thinking about light and its relation to water and to life, and also its opposite — darkness or the night and death. Video treats light like water — it becomes fluid on the video tube. Water supports the fish like light supports man. Land is the death of the fish — darkness is the death of man." Unfolding as a dreamlike trance, Hatsu Yume is a startlingly beautiful, metaphorical work. Viola fuses a personal observation of Japanese culture with a metaphysical contemplation of life, death and nature, achieved through a symbolic exploration of video's relation to light and reflection. Viola's vision of the Japanese culture and landscape evolves in a dramatic language of almost hallucinatory passages and vivid images. An immobile rock on a mountainside appears to change in size and scale with the shifting passage of time and light; an urban scene is illuminated by a single match; fishermen trawl on a black ocean at night, hauling in luminous squids using light as bait. Throughout, Viola creates haunting allegories of light as a metaphysical construct.

Recorded/Edited: Bill Viola. Production Assistant/Still Photographer: Kira Perov. With: Shinnosuke Misawa. Supervising Producer: Carol Brandenburg. Produced in association with Sony Corporation, Atsugi, Japan, and the TV Lab at WNET/Thirteen, New York.


This work has been remastered to HD video by Bill Viola. The HD video is 16:9 aspect ratio, with black pillar bars on either side of the 4:3 image. This must be shown using a 16:9, HD display.

High-Definition Video Guide

SCREENING REQUIREMENTS for museum or gallery presentation: The video should be presented as cinema. The screening should take place in an isolated dark room with seating for the audience (ie. not be an open "walk through" gallery.) If available, a normal museum theater is best. As with film, it should be shown according to a printed schedule and not on an automatically repeating loop. Quality presentations less frequently to larger groups are preferable to continuous screenings throughout the day. A large screen monitor may be used (26, 30, or 35 inch) for groups up to about 60 (varies with floor plan and seating arrangement). For very large groups or in a large space, a video projector with a flat screen (high gain) may be used. Audio must be monitored through a separate stereo sound system (amplifier and 2 speakers). The built-in speakers in the video monitor must not be used. Please contact EAI distribution (info@eai.org) if you have any questions.