Dr. Woody Vasulka

* 1937  

  • “There was Mr. Zmrzlý; I already talked about him, but I probably have not explained it. He was a communist acquaintance of my father’s, but we were loyal to communists like him, although we could not believe it. Every day he would meet us in Brno - it took me about an hour to get there from the outskirts - and there would be four or five, sometimes six of us boys. Mr. Zmrzlý would always come and say: ‘There is a concert there, and we’re now going to the concert.’ And we replied: ‘Yes, sir,’ and we went to the concert! The next day he would say: ‘They are screening an interesting film here, we have to see it.’ And we would go see the film. He was actually educating us daily in the best things that were to be found in Brno, from the beginning to the end. This cultural education thus came from him. Then there were three or four boys who were very educated in literature, and in music, too, of course, and the school at the corner of Bellevue therefore became my school for life. I still draw upon it even now.”

  • “I remove people and I try to search the identity of a machine in these videos. It sounds a bit silly, because machines have no identity, but Steina and I discover certain unexpected nooks and crannies in the way machines connect to humans. I use it as a teacher. My first teacher in my life are machines. When our friends are constructing them we ask them if they could provide their software to us, and they say: certainly. They gave us software and we then play with it. They do it for a completely different purpose, for example, but one can turn it the other way round. The software today is so unstable and reversible that you can choose. It is a world where one does not need light to make a film. It is a completely different world of recording.”

  • “I began looking for a job in film immediately after we arrived. Somebody told me that Hamid was there! I knew him because we saw his films here. I visited him and I got to his work office right away. There were two people. Alexander Hamid and Francis Thompson, they had a company. I was working on an eight millimetre film and I edited it. It was produced for large exhibitions, and all these films were therefore banal and not artistic. They were already older gentlemen and after some half a year or so I realised that I did not want to do it.”

  • Full recordings
  • 4

    Praha, 02.10.2015

    (audio)
    duration: 02:11:07
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

In the videos I try to search for an identity of a machine

The_Vasulkas výřez.jpg (historic)
Dr. Woody Vasulka

  Woody Vasulka (Bohuslav Vašulka) was born January 20, 1937 in Brno. His father worked as a fitter in the Zbrojovka factory in Brno. Bohuslav grew up in Slatina, where he started attending the elementary school at the time of the Second World War. His interest in technology led him to continue his studies at the Secondary Technical School in the 1950s. After graduation in 1956 he decided to go to Prague where he was admitted to the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU). During his studies at the film academy he met Steina (her full name is Steinunn Briem Bjarnadottir) from Iceland who later became his wife as well as co-author of their works. In 1965 they decided to go to New York where they became fully engaged in experimenting with film. They became pioneers of so-called videoart and they have won worldwide acclaim. Together with Andreas Mannik they established a theatre of media art called The Kitchen in 1971. Three years later they moved to Buffalo where they worked at the State University of New York’s Department of Media Studies. From 1980 they have been living in Santa Fe and they continue with their videoart projects there. In 1992 they received the Maya Deren Award from the American Film Institute and in 1995 they won the Siemens Media Art Prize. Both of them are also involved in teaching and curatorial activity.