I'm most familiar with Bill Viola's “watery” pieces, having seen some of them in person, as it were. I was captivated by the sheer beauty of Departing Angel, first of all, simply absorbed in the gorgeous flow of the image on the screen, the magic of the figure emerging from the water anticpated, but not diminished by that realization. I wanted to see it again immediately, (no doubt to the annoyance of those standing behind me at the gallery,) to watch the slow and elegant eruption of bubbles and man a second time, to make sure I hadn't missed any of it.
It's funny, because images and stop motion photography of water, droplets and the like aren't uncommon, from National Geographic to the mundane purposes of advertising; somehow, in Viola's work, they're infused with something bigger, a sense of grandeur even, a significance that lends import and magnitude. Water and its mutable nature is an everyday phenomenon, but somehow his work makes you see it in a new way – and that's the greatest gift of an artist, in my view.