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Steina and Woody Vasulka

Golden Voyage

BERG Contemporary, Reykjavík

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Artist
Steina and Woody Vasulka
Title
Golden Voyage
Year
1973
Duration
14 min 12 s
Format & Technical

Single channel, video, colour, sound
12

  • 6 Input Keyer-Mixer/Gen-Lock System: George Brown
  • Dual Colorizer: Eric Siegel

Magritte´s surrealistic La Legende Dorée (The Golden Legende) depicts loaves of French baguettes, which are floating in a moderate mood by a window in the cloudless blue sky. One or the other art aficionado might know this painting by the Belgian artist. Its surreal, however, bright ambient has been transformed into digitalized images, in this pioneer video, together with these French bread moving, slowly but slightly chaotically, through a changing and, somehow creepy landscape, along with the electronic sound-collage of a similar mood. In an advanced stage of the scenes, for example, a nude female body interferes with the path of the hovering bread loaves –and their phallic allusion, by the way, cannot be ignored anymore. Steina and Woody Vasulka have replicated the Magritte painting intended an electronic, slightly feministic and ironical homage to Magritte. They employed, to mention some technical details, a three-camera set-up and a Multi-keyer for layered the images. Together, they create the illusion of objects embarking in these spatial planes on a surreal journey through the electronic landscapes, arriving at U-Topos.

Golden Voyage is one of the outstanding meta-art-projects, among which are appropriations of art and music history. They are dedicated to the history of the arts in a critical and self-reflexive manner. But, above all, the Vasulkas only have designed this considerable video work to reveal and define the capacity of the medium, in order to organize space and to pattern thought in a variety of scientific fields. The career of artist-experimenter-scientist-duo Steina and Woody Vasulka spans almost the entire history of contemporary video art. They have never only been artists but also explorers and inventors. As early as by the end of the 1960s, both together investigated the possibilities of the medium video by transforming it into a state of fluctuating and flowing energy and data, always with a certain sense of humour. Implementing all kinds of electronic devices and tools, with or without the camera, they generated synthetic images, which may stimulate the awareness of a world with signals and information. Therefore by constructing, changing and manipulating electronically generated images Steina and Woody definitely are pioneers of this genre. As to their innovative potential for contemporary audiovisual culture, they definitely may be equated with prominent video artists like Nam June Paik, Werner Nekes or Peter Weibel.

Uta M. Reindl

 

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