"Il Vapore" is an historic work of the artist, created and exhibited during his Florentine period. A monitor, set in a niche on a stand, transmits the black and white video of a previously recorded
performance where the artist, seated, cross-legged on a tatami, filled a metal pan while he let the water flow slowly through his mouth. In the installation, a spotlight illuminates the area of the tatami where the same metal recipient containing water and eucalyptus leaves stands on a hot plate. Now and then, brief bursts of steam fill the air, which is filled with a eucalyptus odor. The video camera represents an implicit invitation to interact with the work; in fact, the live signal is mixed in a fade-out with the recorded video. Thus, past and present co-exist in a work that represents some of the themes that would become central to the work of Bill Viola: the spiritual inspiration profoundly rooted in the human experience of life, the importance attributed to the body, the radically theatrical concept of the mis en scène in a work of art and the technical knowledge used poetically by the artist. Inspired by an excerpt of the Persian poet and mystic Jalaluddin Rumi, who lived in the 13th century, "Il Vapore" proposes an Orientally inspired ritual to be lived in a space of meditation.