Bill Viola

The Reflecting Pool


Werk - The Reflecting Pool
Artist / Artist group
Bill Viola
The Reflecting Pool
video, Analog video
Material / Technique
digital video, color, mono, original format: Open Reel
Dimensions / Duration
ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien

The camera films a clearing in the forest, in which there is a rectangular water basin in the foreground. Loud roaring – presumably of an airplane – can be heard right at the beginning. A man steps out of the dense vegetation, the aircraft noise becomes gradually quieter until they finally fall silent. He approaches the edge of the pond, stops, crouches down, and cries out when he jumps. But he doesn’t land in the water; the image of the man leaping into the air freezes, while the slight ripples on the water’s surface and the sounds of the forest make it clear that the rest of the scene is not frozen. After minutes, the image of the man slowly fades. Later, the reflections of two people are visible on the water, and at the end a naked man rises from the pond and disappears into the forest.

Using various analog video procedures such as dissolve and freeze frame, the American veteran of video art, Bill Viola, merges different layers of time into one image in this early work. As in many of his videos, he utilized the possibilities of video technology of the time with a high degree of perfection in order to visualize elementary human experiences. In »The Reflecting Pool«, aspects of human existence become apparent that raise questions about time, consciousness, and memory.

Author: Anna-Maria Drago Jekal

About the artist/s