Steina (b. 1940) and Woody (b. 1937) Vasulka
Switch! Monitor! Drift! (1976)
C Trend (1974)
Steina & Woody Vasukla
Music in the Afternoon, with Tony Conrad (2002)
Steina and Woody Vasulka are major figures in video history, technical pioneers who have contributed enormously to the evolution of the medium and who continue to be major practitioners of video as art. The Vasulkas' technological investigations into analog and digital processes and their development of electronic imaging tools, which began in the early 1970s, place them among the primary architects of an expressive electronic vocabulary of image-making. Applying an informal, real-time spontaneity to their formalist, often didactic technical research, they chart the evolving formulation of a grammar and syntax of electronic imaging as they articulate a processual dialogue between artist and technology.
The Vasulkas' early collaborative efforts, produced from 1970 to 1974, include phenomenological explorations that deconstruct the materiality of the electronic signal and analyze the imaging capabilities of video tools. Central to these increasingly complex exercises are explorations of the malleability of the image, the manipulation of electronic energy, and the interrelation of sound and image.
In the mid-1970s, working with such engineer/designers as Eric Siegel, George Brown, Steve Rutt and Bill Etra, the Vasulkas developed electronic tools specifically for use by artists. With Jeffrey Schier they developed the Digital Image Articulator, a device that allows the digital processing of video imagery in real-time. Steina's training as a violinist, and Woody Vasulka's background as an engineer and filmmaker, informed their invention of electronic devices to transform sound, image, space and time Ñ themes that they have pursued independently in their later works. Though the Vasulkas continue to collaborate, since 1975 they have produced much of their work individually.
The Vasulkas emigrated to the United States in 1965, and began their collaborative exploration of electronic media in 1969. In 1971, they co-founded The Kitchen, a major alternative exhibition and media arts center in New York. From 1973 to 1979, the Vasulkas lived and worked in Buffalo, New York, where they were faculty members at the Center for Media Study, State University of New York. The Vasulkas have received numerous awards for their work in the media arts, including grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 1989, they received a United States/Japan Exchange Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Vasulkas have broadcast and exhibited their collaborative works extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, at institutions including The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, among many others.