Bill Viola


(Image owned and rights to

Bill Vola was born in 1951 in New York USA, and is well-known as one of todays leading artists. Viola is best known for his work in video as a form of contemporary art. For 35 years has created video tapes  and has worked all over the world from the deserts of Africa to the gardens of the Zen Buddhists. In 1979 Viola and Perov travelled to the Sahara desert in Tunisia to record Mirages. Viola has been made famous for his certain style of making his video really slow to create a certain effect, and most of his videos hold spiritual or religious ideas. One of my favourite pieces by Viola is footage called “Departed Angel” below is a still of the footage that he produced.


(Image rights belong to Bill Viola and the producer of the photograph Kira Perov of

This is one of my favourite pieces by ben viola, which is about a person slowly submerging into water backwards and then slowly turning to face the surface, and then resurfacing in a Christ Cross position. Its a rewind of someone jumping into water but it is very effective. It is quite an eary scene, with a powerfull use of light and colour to create a dark dense atmosphere. It almost makes you think of death or a drowning or maybe someone falling into water. The atmopshere is almost spiritual like a ghost floating in empty space, and i also think that the emptyness adds to the emotion experienced by the viewer. Bill Violas work is very powerful in its meaning, i watched a video called “Ocean without a shore” by Viola which consisted of multiple people being shown 1 at a time being drenched in water starting in slow motion and slowly becoming faster. I personally found this to be very atmospheric in the way it has been filmed, almost like seeing an apperition of a ghost slowly moving in a distorted enviroment.

(image rights belong to Bill Viola and the host of this file

Bill Viola 3

I feel that Violas use of water in his videos is very powerful, water is the essence of life and in itself is spiritual and introduced in Violas way, creates a unique powerful atmosphere unique to him. I can clearly see Violas influence from the Zen Buddhists, creating a spiritual atmosphere to effect a mood. I believe this unique to Viola, and i think his work relates alot to the Renaissance painters and also very much like the Surrealist and expressionist painters. (Bibliography, book by Bill Viola)


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