SteinaIcelandic (Reykjavik, Iceland, 1940)
Steina Vasulka's video installation The West charts the relationship of landscape to time, specifically the ways in which the desert landscape retains within it the imprint of geological time and the remains of civilizations. This work addresses the spectrum of human technologies evident in the desert, from the Very Large Array (VLA) satellite antenna installation to the ruins of the ancient Anasazi Indians — each in its own way a quest to understand the universe.
Vasulka recorded much of her footage by focusing a motor-driven camera on a spherical mirror. This device allowed her to record landscape in front of and behind the lens simultaneously, creating a circular area of optically transformed space centered in the rectangular frame of the video screen.
The electronic landscape is shown on a bank of 22 double-stacked monitors arranged in an arc. The boundaries formed by the edges of the individual monitors are challenged by Vasulka's use of horizontal drift, a process by which video images are made to move sideways from one screen to the next.
The installation is accompanied by a sound environment created by Steina's husband and collaborator, Woody Vasulka.