At Pori Museum, Steina and Woody Vasulka’s analogue videos and experiments with lens-based media and digital processors from the early seventies to the late nineties will be shown in the exhibition STEINA AND WOODY VASULKA: ART OF MEMORY. The Vasulkas’ methods anticipated the virtual modes of image-making that are dominant today.
Steina (born 1940, Reykjavík) and Woody Vasulka (born 1937, Brno) are pioneers of electronic and digital image production. In their ongoing dialogue with machines – from cathode-ray televisions to digital computer systems – they consider the electronic signal as artistic medium. Meeting in Prague in 1962, the Vasulkas relocated to New York in 1965 where, by the early 1970s, they began working almost entirely with machine-generated imagery. Their early technical studies were produced in what they described as ‘states of unsupervised performance’ with the artists adjusting and altering sound and image waveforms in real-time to create illusory images in virtual space. Often collaborating with a close network of engineers, musicians, and artists, they invented new electronic and digital devices to realize video environments such as Noisefields (1974).
In Vocabulary, from 1973, Woody demonstrates how objects from reality can be reorganized spatially without changing the objects’ position. Vocabulary shows the process by which feedback disintegrates the boundaries of objects and switches their distinct spatial forms into luminosity values. Woody initially worked as a filmmaker, while Steina trained as a classical violinist, and their respective visual styles are seen in their individual practices. In the exhibition, Steina’s electro-optical-mechanical installation Machine Vision (1978) implicates the body of the viewer and demonstrates her poetic conception of time, while Woody’s scientific analysis of video technology is evident in his Waveform Studies (1977-2016). In Steina’s Cantaloup from 1980, there are referents to the earlier works, Noisefields and Vocabulary, in which a visual relationship is contextualized for the viewer to follow along in the Vasulkas’ knowledge building through experimentations using the same imagery of sphere, hand, and face.
In the exhibition’s educational space will be work based on Steina’s Image-Ine software. In Steina’s Warp, we see the artist’s mastery of experimenting with the possibilities of art and technology as she puts the Image-Ine software, developed in collaboration with Tom Demeyer of STEIM in Amsterdam in 1997, to her own uses. In the piece, Steina explores space within the video frame by using the Image-Ine software to create sculptural forms from her own bodily movements.
The exhibition is curated by Kristín Scheving.
All work courtesy of the Vasulkas and BERG Contemporary, Reykjavík. Machine Vision courtesy of National Gallery of Iceland.
Thanks to Amy Budd and Erin Honeycutt for texts.