A Programmer's Perspective on Art

Bill Viola

Bill Viola is a video artist who specializes in the dramatization of a single moment.  He was born in 1951 and grew up in Queen’s, New York and graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in Fine Arts.  He is a master at using ultra slow motion in his art – and the two concepts he seems most interested in are water and emotion. An example of his use of slow motion and water would be Reflecting Pool – where he uses slow motion, water and the suspense of time to create an intriguing video. A good example of his emphasis and dramatization of emotion would be The Quintet of the Astonished – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR9av-I35ME – which is a 47 second video of five people emoting astonishment in super duper slow motion….it is epic.

I think this is the first video artist whose art I’ve been able to understand easily. His use of slow motion and emphasis on the grandiose is something our current society is used to already, so viewing his art lead me to a comfortable place I’ve visited before – thanks to Hollywood. My favorite piece of his was definitely The Quintet of the Astonished (video linked above), and I think that is because there is so much going on in that piece. The people are reacting strongly to some outside stimuli, that the viewer cannot see, and each of them is reacting in his/her own way. Especially the guy in the back who seems to not be astonished at all during the whole video – to the contrary he looks as if he is in his happy place or something, which brings a new layer of intrigue to the piece. Bill Viola may use cheesy techniques such as slow motion to grab his audiences attention, however he does it in such an elegant way that his pieces don’t suffer from it.

One Comment

  1. sjackson249 says:

    Your prowess with words makes your blog as stimulating as the artists you describe. You seem to write with understanding and vision. Your very words pierce the soul of art. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts.