Bill Viola. The Reflecting Pool

The Reflecting Pool. 1977-1979. Video (color, sound), 7 min  © 2010 BILL VIOLA. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

BILL VIOLA – as protagonist of his own work of art- emerges from a dense forest into a clearing in the foreground, which seems to be filled by an artificial pond or pool. As the engine noise of an aeroplane slowly fades away in the background, VIOLA approaches the edge of the pool. He takes off his shoes and squats down yelling and prepares to make a powerful jump. Yet directly after he jumps up, in that fragment of a second which should have preceded a noisy dive into the “reflecting pool”, something unexpected happens. His body freezes in mid-air and pauses in the foetal position above the surface of the water. As the camera whirrs on, time seems to stand still.

“The Reflecting Pool”, one of VIOLA‘s early video works created between 1977 and 1979 with analogue video techniques such as fading and freeze frames on different levels, is thus in no way a static artwork. And the observer quickly notices this, for although VIOLA‘s body freezes in the air, the water continues to ripple and undulate atmospherically beneath him.

According to the artist, the piece concerns “the emergence of the individual into the natural world — a kind of baptism“. It is about the flowing aspects of human existence, those which never come to a standstill: Birth and death, our perception of time and its dissolution, consciousness, conscience and memory.

If you are not familiar with the work of American video artist BILL VIOLA, I really suggest you to visit this link! Enjoy.

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