While in London I finally got to see a couple of pieces by the renowned video and installation artist, Bill Viola. Then in Ayr I came across Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House: Writings 1973-1994.
Here's a wonderful piece from the book, writing about his 1976 work "he weeps for you".
One of the foundations of ancient philosophy is the concept of the correspondence between the microcosm and the macrocosm, or the belief that everything on the higher order, or scale, of existence reflects and is contained in the manifestation and operation of the lower orders. This has been expressed in religious thought as the symbolic correspondence of the divine (the heavens) and the mundane (the earth), and also finds representation in the theories of contemporary physics that describe how each particle of matter in space contains information about the state of the entire universe.
The ensemble of elements in "He Weeps for You" evokes a "tuned space," where not only is everything locked into a single rhythmical cadence, but a dynamic interactive system is created where all elements (the water drop, the video image, the sound, the viewer, and the room) function together in a reflexive and unified way as a larger instrument.
The traditional philosophy of the microcosm/macrocosm has been profoundly expressed in the Islamic mystical tradition of Sufism. The Persian poet Jallaludin Rumi (1207-1273) developed these concepts with subtle variation in the course of his life's work. In "The Masnavi" he wrote:
With every moment a world is born and dies,
And know that for you, with every moment come death and renewal.
Whether or not you agree with Viola's cosmology, what he says about installation art is interesting. Here is someone seeking to craft an experience where each aspect complements the others and makes a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
If you ever want to show Bill Viola works, educational institutions and museums (and presumably churches) can rent or buy them from Electronic Arts Intermix. Some of his work is also available on DVD from Amazon.