The Rhythm-Image: Aesthetic experience in the work of Theo Angelopoulos and Bill Viola

Lakka, Maria. 2006. The Rhythm-Image: Aesthetic experience in the work of Theo Angelopoulos and Bill Viola. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Following the secularization of the world in modernity, art's concomitant fate was the separation of form and content, which has founded art on a split that has entailed the inheritance of an abyss of incommunicability. Secularization, however, has not liberated art from the model of representation, which has now assumed the form of the identification of a self-referential beauty. Moreover, the modernist doctrine of autonomy has deprived art of the possibility of infusing the vital powers of being and society, subsuming it to the demands of the institution and the art market. Nevertheless, twentieth-century art is driven by the will to overcome the schism (form/content, art/society), to touch the viewer, and to become an experience rather than merely an object of vision.

Responding to this problem, this thesis explores the notion of rhythm, drawn from Bergson's concept of la duree and Deleuze's rethinking of immanence as difference and repetition. Rhythm, which grants the communicability of the work of art, emphasizes that art can only live in the experience; to conceive it solely in-itself as modernism has done unavoidably leads to its reification. Rhythm considers art in terms of intensity of the work and of the encounter, rather than in identifying art's spatial qualities. It tests the work of art and the encounter, but immanently in the life generated for the body. For this latter is also a rhythm, that is an affective surface which creates itself and reflects the world. Art then lives in the body but it also infuses life to the body.

Aspects of the work of a film-maker (Theo Angelopoulos) and a video-artist (Bill Viola) are also elaborated, in order to show how their singular implementation of time in images takes them beyond their representational content and opens them to rhythm as an affective, embodied experience.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


rhythm, Bill Viola, Theo Angelopoulos

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

29 May 2020 11:19

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 14:09


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