GBH Openvault

Bill Viola: Migration

Migration, Bill Viola, August, 1977

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Bill Viola: Migration
Program Description

Dated 1976: The film begins with sound which seemed to be a common theme in all of the film viewed. There was a sound of faint church bells with the vision of a distorted image. As the bells got louder the image became clearer. You are left with an image of a man, which is Bill Viola sitting at a table. The head fades and is out of the shot. You are left with his body behind a bowl, cereal box and oranges. The shot begins to close in but not in a normal zoom fashion. It is as if it is a migration. You see the movement of the zoom with a double image which blends into one after a moment. Then you see his face again. This time it is in the reflection of the bowl. There is again the same migration effect done to the image of almost a small faucet which has drops of water dripping into the bowl. Many steps are taken to zoom into this. At the end you again see the reflection of Viola in the drop of water. It is interesting how he uses the repetition of his image each time in water. His face is also decreasing in size each time you see it. First it is his actual face, then in the bowl and finally in water drops. It is almost as if with migration he feels that his reflection is not worth that large of a space.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “Bill Viola: Migration,” GBH Archives, accessed July 18, 2024,
MLA: “Bill Viola: Migration.” GBH Archives. Web. July 18, 2024. <>.
APA: Bill Viola: Migration. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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