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Woody Vasulka

b. 1937
Czech

"Woody Vasulka studied engineering at the Industrial Engineering School in Brno and at the Film faculty at Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in prague in the 1950s and 1960s. He immigrated to New York in 1965. Since 1969 he has been working primarily with the new medium of video researching the structures of the electronic image. Along with his colleague and life companion, Steina, Woody Vasulka counts among the pioneers of video art. Together, they founded the experimental theater for electronic arts, The Kitchen, in 1971. In 1973, Vasulka accepted an invitation by Gerald O'grady to the then newly established Center for Media Study at the State University of New York in Buffalo (New York) where he took up a professorship and taught until 1979. The Vasulkas have been living and working in Santa Fe (New Mexico) since 1980 where they initiated the research institute Art and Science Laboratory in 1999.

The focal point of Woody Vasulka's artistic work is the thorough going analysis of the materiality of the video as a medium, the research of its inherent laws and the potential extension of the electronic image by the application of analogue and digital tools. In numerous works since the 1960s, he has researched, both formally and in terms of content, the narrative, syntactical and metaphorical potential of electronic imaging and processing, in cooperation with Steina and numerous...technicians, programmers, and artists. One consistently important point of departure in this connection is the relationship of electronic image and sound signal, both of which follow the same physical laws. Hence, Vasulka's language of images consistently draws on the translation of electronic signals in grid and wave forms and images synthetically generated by means of frequency and voltage and later by digital code. Early technical studies from the 1970s, predominantly videos, screen-scans, and prints -- incomplete series --  developed during the 1980s to lengthier, narrative video works such as The Commission (1983) or Art of Memory (1987).

Vasulka understands images as objects on the basis of their technical composition and representations potential. In addition to digital video processing and algorithmuc image generation (vide the development of the Digital Image Articulator together with Jeffrey Schier, in 1979) he began to occupy himself increasingly with three dimensional mechanical languages and robotics. In the series of works titled The Brotherhood (1990 - 1998), he developed interactive sound-, image-, and robotic installations, which visualize the poles between reality (theater, installation space) and virtual space (computer, video, sound). For the art of the moving image, Vasulka represents the central figure of that group of artists work transitioning to the electronic and digital age. Nobody quite understands the structure and potential of the digital image as thoroughly as Vasulka. Accordingly, he finds himself in an ongoing process of research and experimentation. Thus, one defining characteristic is an immense productivity and continuous artistic development, which has lead him from the technological development of analogue and digital media image manipulation to interactive, machine-guided spatial installations. Woody Vasulka continues to be fascinated with tools which facilitate the potential novel control and manipulation of images, and which, consequently, disclose to the observer the structure of the respective media."[1]

 

Vasulka, Woody and Peter Weibel (ed.) "Buffalo Heads" MIT Press, Cambridge MA. pg 389.