Steina Vasulka

Hafnarhúsið, Reykjavík Art Museum, 19th of May, 21:00

Violin Power

When I with my husband Woody rambled into video in 1969, we already owned an audio tape recorder. Audio and video in our view was always a parallel, interwoven art material. The eighties were ripe with rumors that the Japanese were collaborating with American software engineers on a unifying interface where a controller, typically a keyboard, could be connected to play another instrument. The name of this phenomena was Musical Instrument Digital Interface or MIDI. Eventually MIDI could interface anything to everything, including our videocassette tape recorder, and in the early nineties we connected my acoustic violin to a “pitch to MIDI” device. It was fun, but limited fun because I could move the tape only a few meters, back and forth or faster and slower. If I however had a laser disc player and MIDI violin, I could with a stroke of the bow jump to various locations, somewhat akin to life editing as a performance.  After performing this way for a few years, I landed in 1996 a co-directorship at STEIM (the studio for electro-instrumental music) in Amsterdam, which in those years was very involved in interfacing MIDI to acoustic instruments. When I arrived, there already was a MIDI/VIDEO software being written by Tom Demeyer, initially named Image/ine and later IMX. In addition to random access, speed and direction, this software gave me a plethora of video effects and memory locations. The clips in my performances are selected as much for the sound as video contend, and are a mix between prepared and improvised play.