Steina «Orbital Obsessions» 1977.


Steina, Orbital Obsessions

Electronic and digital art pioneers, Woody and Steina Vasulka have played a vital role in developing a formal vocabulary specific to electronic and digital images. The fonds contains documents pertaining to their technical research and to the development of the works they created. Furthermore, the fonds includes documents relating to video artists, instrument designers and other collaborators together with exhibition catalogues and theoretical essays on video and electronic art.


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Orbital Obsession, 1977
24:00 min.

Steina, Orbital Obsessions
Steina, Orbital Obsessions
Steina, Orbital Obsessions
Steina, Orbital Obsessions
Steina, Orbital Obsessions

Steina and Woody Vasulka met in Prague in 1960 and married in 1964. From 1964 to 1973, they lived in New York and then moved to Buffalo and later to Santa Fe in 1980.

In the early seventies, their video work was close to the style of direct documentaries. From 1969 to 1971, with support from a Portapak mobile production unit, Steina and Woody Vasulka amassed video segments. To meet a need expressed by artists for a centre to produce and show electronic art, the couple, together with Andrea Manick, opened The Electronic Kitchen (later shortened to The Kitchen) in 1971 in what had once been the kitchen of the Mercer Art Center (New York, N.Y., United States). This artists run organization helped video makers and later musicians, dancers and performers operating outside the mainstream to create their work and present it at a venue that favoured discussion and experimentation.

Meanwhile, they also began experimenting with equipment (modulators, video synthesizers, keyers, sequencers) that enabled them to isolate the elements of a visual vocabulary and build a syntax specific to electronic images. They were invited to develop the production lab of the Center for Media Study at the State University of New York, a research centre devoted to media theory and founded by Gerald O'Grady. Both taught at the centre till 1979. Though they worked together periodically, as of 1975, their approaches began to differ.

From 1975 to 1977, Steina focused mainly on the series Machine Vision, a project examining the mediation of space through technology that included videos and installations. She also began designing feedback devices to reverberate sound waves off video signals and vice versa.

sources: isea2004.net, fondation-langlois.org