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Woody Vasulka

Woody Vasulka working on The Brotherhood, Table I, 1995
Woody Vasulka, circa 1980 Woody Vasulka, circa 2000
Woody Vasulka in WNED Buffalo, Matrix, 1978 (excerpt)
Woody Vasulka in WNED Buffalo, Matrix, 1978 (excerpt)
Born in Brno, Czech Republic, Woody Vasulka studied film in Prague. He made several documentaries before relocating to the United States in 1965 with his wife Steina. He then worked as editor on a number of film projects, and experimented with electronic sound and strobe light. In 1969, dissatisfied with film, he started using video.

With Steina, he worked to explore the nature of electronic image and sound, and directed several documentaries on the New York City avant-garde, and more specifically the theatre, dance and music produced at that time. In 1974, the Vasulkas moved to Buffalo where they taught at the Center for Media Studies at the State University of New York (SUNY). Working independently during that period, Woody became interested in the way the Rutt/Etra Scan Processor could modulate a video signal; in 1976, he and Jeffrey Schier created the Digital Image Articulator. In 1980, he left his teaching post and continued research into what he called "a new epistemological space."

Among his recent installations is The Brotherhood: Table I-VI, a complex work whose theme is the dilemma of masculine identity, but that acts as well as a reflection on the link between male violence and technology. Examining the relationship between sexuality and war, the artist casts an ironic look at man's self-destructive tendencies. Finally, using new media tools, Woody Vasulka sets forth a critique of the dramatic space of traditional film and theatre, while exploring new forms of narration. Among his many prizes and awards are an honorary doctorate conferred by the San Francisco Arts Institute in 1998 to both Woody and Steina, and the National Association of Media and Culture's award to both artists honouring their exceptional contribution to the field of media arts.

Woody Vasulka died on December 20, 2019 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jacques Perron © 2000 rev 2020 FDL