Bill Viola’s Art of Immediacy

Due to Bolter and Grusin’s understanding of immediacy and hypermediacy both relating to audience’s awareness of an object’s “mediatedness”, it could be summarized that “immediacy requires the transparency of the medium”, whereas the aim of hypermediacy is to “remind the viewer of the medium, and so a hypermedium will draw attention to itself and its distinct form of mediation”. The American video artist Bill Viola has been central in expanding the possibilities of medium since University, and his works have an immediacy and directness that “commands the attention of the viewer in a much more sensory way”.


He did his color video work Dissolution in 2005. Much of his work revolve around water which is also the most familiar metaphor in his works. And he has consistently used the most contemporary electronic technologies to create, such as slow motion and reverse edition. In this work Bill Viola presents immersing into the water of a man and a woman at the same time separately in slow motion, shooting from blow instead of direct vision. Images of faces blur in water and all the details of expression changes are blown up in distorted time.  As Klich and Scheer suggest, “the moving image becomes less about representation and instead is a medium that, through its temporal qualities, has a connection to human consciousness and perceptual experience.”


Klich, R. and Scheer, E. (2012). Multimedia performance. 1st ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, p.133.

Bolter, J. and Grusin, R. (2003). Remediation. 1st ed. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.]: MIT Press, p.Chapter 4.


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