Anthem

1983, 11:30 min, color, sound

Anthem is a post-industrial lamentation, structured on the single piercing scream of a young girl as she stands in the vast chamber of Union Station in Los Angeles. Viola relates this structure to the form and function of religious chants, particularly Gregorian chants (using a harmonic scale in a resonant hall) and Tantric Buddhist chants (ritual exorcism and conversation with demons). The original scream is extended in time and shifted in frequency to produce a scale of harmonic notes that comprises the soundtrack, to which Viola juxtaposes images of materialism -- industry and the worship of the body, giant oil pumps and the beating human heart, cars streaming along a freeway and blood flowing through veins, modern surgical technology and tree branches in an ancient forest. The anguished scream cuts through the corporeality of the body and contemporary culture as a living organism. For Viola, the piece is a ritual evocation of "our deepest primal fears, darkness, and the separation of body and spirit."

Production Assistant/Still Photographer: Kira Perov. Vocalist: Amy Nomura. Produced in association with the TV Lab at WNET/Thirteen, New York.

 
 

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