Video
C—Trend (1974)
Pioneering Values: Woody & Steina Vasulka — Retrospective   
Video , 09:03

Woody Vasulka (USA)

Work presented as part of the WRO 2013 on Tour

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In one of Woody Vasulka`s ‘dialogues with tools’, the video raster, or monitor screen, is controlled by the Rutt—Etra Scan Processor, a scan deflection tool designed by Steve Rutt and Bill Etra in 1973. The camera image being modified is urban traffic, whose synchronous sounds are clearly recognizable on the audio track. Two basic modifications of the electronic image are evident: each horizontal line scanned by the electron beam is translated into a live graphic display of voltage, radically reconfiguring the luminance information and the video image, and functioning as a wave form monitor. The shape of the video frame itself, the raster, is also skewed. The deflection coils, which electromagnetically control the electron gun and thus the raster, receive mathematically recoded analog information and reconfigure the normally rectilinear video frame. The ‘empty spaces’ between the altered frames, which appear to drift or roll throughout C—Trend, are the horizontal and vertical blanking intervals between electronic frames.

Steina (born Steinunn Briem Bjarnadottir in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1940) and Woody (born Bohuslav Peter Vasulka in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1937) Vasulka, renowned media art pioneers acknowledged worldwide; sound, light, and image experimentators; founders of the well—known New York gallery The Kitchen.

She studied violin and music theory and in 1959 she received a scholarship ftom the Czechoslovak Ministry of Culture to attend the music conservatory in Prague. He studied metal technology and hydraulic mechanics at the School of Industrial Engineering in Brno (Brno University of Technology), where he received a baccalaureate degree in 1956. He attended the Academy of Performing Arts, Faculty of Film and Television, in Prague to direct and produce several short films.

They meet in Prague in the early 1960`s, fall in love with each other, marry, and move to New York City in 1965.

There, Steina works as a freelance musician and Woody as a multiscreen film editor, experimenting with electronic sounds, stroboscopic lights, and — by 1969 — with video. In 1971, with Andreas Mannik, they found The Kitchen, a media art gallery. The same year, Steina and Woody establish the first annual video festival at The Kitchen, and they collaborate with David Bienstock on organizing A Special Videotape Show at the Whitney Museum.

In these early years, Steina and Woody collaborate extensively on investigations to the electronic nature of video and sound, and on producing documentaries about theater, dance, and music, with a special fascination for the New York underground scene. In 1974, the Vasulkas move to Buffalo, where they join the faculty of the Center for Media Study at the State Univesity of New York. At this point, their interest diverge: Woody turns his attention to the Rutt/Etra Scan Processor, while Steina experiment with the camera as an autonomous imaging instrument in what would become the Machine Vision series. In 1976, working first with Don MacArthur and then Jeffrey Schier, Woody begins to build the Digital Image Articulator. This device introduce him to the principles of digital imaging.

Since 1980, the Vasulkas have lived and worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA), where Steina has continued her work in video, media performance and video installation, and Woody has continued to produce work in video, three—dimensional computer graphics, and media constructions. In 1992, the Vasulkas organized Eigenwelt der Apparate-Welt: Pioneers of Electronic Art, an exhibition of early electronic tools for Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria, with a laserdisc interactive catalogue. The Vasulkas have been artist-in-residence at the National Center for Experiments in television (NCET), at KQED in San Francisco, and at WNET/Thirteen in New York.

Individually and collectively, they have received funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Corporation for Public Service (CASP), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New Mexico Arts Division. Both received the American Film Institute Maya Deren Award in 1992 and the Siemens Media Art Prize in 1995. In 1988, Steina was an artist—in—residence in Tokyo on a U.S./Japan Friendship Commitee grant. In 1993, Woody received a Soros Foundation fellowship to lecture and present work throughout Eastern Europe.

Steina has taught at the Academy for Applied Arts in Vienna, the Institute for New Media at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt, and the College of Arts and Crafts in Reykjavik. Since 1993, Woody has been a visiting professor at the Faculty of Art, Polytechnic Institute in Brno.

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