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Bill Viola

(United States of America 25 Jan 1951 – )

The reflecting pool - collected work 1977-1980: 1. The Reflecting Pool 1977-1979 2. Moonblood 1977-1979 3. Silent Life 1979 4. Ancient of Days 1979-1981 5. Vegetable Memory 1978-1980
Media categories
Time-based media, Video, DVD
Materials used
Betacam video, colour, sound, 62 min
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased 2003
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Production Assistant/Still Photographer: Kira Perov.
Technical Assistants: Bobby Bielecki, Yasuo Shinohara.
Supervising Producers: Carvin Eison, Carol Brandenburg.
Supervising Engineers: John J. Godfrey, Gordon Metz.
Editors: Mike Ballenger, Bruce Hutter.
Produced in association with the TV Lab at WNET/Thirteen, New York, and the Artists' Television Workshop at WXXI-TV, Rochester.

The collection of five works in 'The reflecting pool - collected work' 1977-80, describe the stages of a personal journey using images of transition...from day to night, motion to stillness, time to timelessness. In the title work, 'The reflecting pool' 1977-79, all movement and change in an otherwise still scene is confined to the reflections on the surface of a pool. A man is suspended in time, hovering above the pool in the midst of a leap. Viola describes it as concerning the emergence of the individual into the natural world in a kind of baptism. He describes 'Moonblood' 1977-79 as an expression of the feminine principle, a work in three parts relating to a personal concept of woman and mother, with day and night converging on the silhouette of a woman by a window. "A rushing waterfall in winter and the serene interplay of changing dawn light unfolds within a glass of water in the desert." 1

Other works in this collection include 'Silent life' 1979, recording the first hours of a human life and the vulnerability of pre-lingual gestures and expressions; 'Ancient of days' 1979-81 is a remarkable series of 'canons and fugues for video' that comprises Viola's most sophisticated structural and metaphorical explorations of time unfolding with symbolic transformations of natural and urban landscapes. The final work, 'Vegetable memory' 1978-80 derived from the writings of 13th century Persian poet, Jalaludin Rumi evolves in a 'temporal magnifying glass'. The loop of images recorded at the Tsukji fish market in Tokyo explores the perceptual phenomenon of repetitive, cyclic viewing.

1. Electronic Arts Intermix website, access 7/9/11

Bibliography (1)

Jill Sykes, Look, 'New on two', pg. 18-19, Newtown, Sep 2006, 19.

Exhibition history (1)

John Kaldor Family Collection Artist Room #2 - Francis Alys and Bill Viola, Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Emu Plains, 31 May 2014–24 Aug 2014