Since the mid-1970s, Steina has explored intricate transformations of vision, space and sound, through a dynamic confluence of digital technologies, mechanical devices and natural landscape. After producing a pioneering body of work with Woody Vasulka in the early 1970s, Steina has pursued several distinct inquiries in her more recent videotapes and installations: The electronic interrelation of sound and image; the use of mechanized, pre-programmed image devices for phenomenological explorations of perception, space, and modes of seeing; and the textural fusion of digital and “real” imagery and sound to create layered spatial and temporal systems. In many of her works, the natural landscape of the American Southwest is integral visual material.
In 1975, Steina began Machine Vision, a series of tapes and installations for which she devised mechanical systems with programmed functions — optical, motorized or rotating devices that include spherical mirrors, prisms, and cameras with lens mobility. Used with her signature electronic manipulation and landscape imagery, these devices resulted in exhilarating redefinitions of physical and representational space. In richly textured works such as Voice Windows (1986) and Lilith (1987), Steina manipulates digital and camera-generated images, “real” and altered sound with haunting effect, constructing dense layers and multiple perspectives that fuse the natural world and technology in space and time.
Steina’s project of manipulating and fusing the “real” and the electronic, sound and image, has in recent years taken the form of performances in which she returns to her roots as a musician. Transposing the strategies of her early Violin Power to a theatrical scale, Steina performs on a violin that digitally generates and controls a progression of projected images.
Steina Vasulka was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1940. She studied at the Music Conservatory in Prague, 1959-63, and emigrated to the United States in 1965. With Woody Vasulka, she has won numerous awards; their collaborative works have been widely exhibited internationally (see Steina and Woody Vasulka). Exhibitions of her individual works have been seen at festivals and institutions including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Kitchen, New York; Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; The Jonson Gallery, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque; and the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, among many others. Steina lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.