Take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Bill Viola’s video installation Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), on display at St. Paul’s Cathedral

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The American video and sound installation artist Bill Viola explains how he developed his latest video work Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), an installation consisting of four colour vertical plasma screens, each showing a single figure who is progressively overwhelmed by the onslaught of a natural force. 

Reflecting that the Greek word for martyr originally meant ‘witness’, Viola has explained that the martyrs ‘exemplify the human capacity to bear pain, hardship and even death in order to remain faithful to their values, beliefs and principles.’ Like much of Viola’s work, Martyrs offers a contemporary contemplation on life, death and afterlife, and is also the first permanent installation of a video work in a cathedral or church in Britain.