equipment after work, and eventually Woody began bringing it home. At that point, they realized that the only way they could really experiment was by living with the equipment. "What started happening," Steina recalls, "was that every day Woody would come home from work at five o'clock, and I would have another piece for him. He got so jealous because in the evening he was tired. So he just came home from work one day and said, "I'm quitting!" Using some borrowed equipment and some that they bought in early 1970 the Vasulkas began to work more "systematically," making feedback loops and using audio inputs to generate and alter the video signal inside black and white monitors.
Although many of these experiments were not original since others had done them before, the excitement of that time was generated by the sense of being pioneers. There was a camaraderie among people who were making discoveries about the potential of video - as an electronic phenomenon and as a tool for social change. As Steina describes this animus,
Our discovery was a discovery because we discovered it. We didn't know all those people had discovered it before us. It was just like feedback: pointing the camera at the TV set and seeing feedback was an invention that was invented over and over again. As late as 1972, people were inventing feedback, thinking they had just caught the fire of the gods.
Part of the excitement, too, had to do with the informality of exchanges among people. Tapes were shown in lofts or at clubs, and information spread through word of mouth or sometimes via small ads in the Village Voice or the East Village Other. But, says Steina, "It's different [now], it was a secret then. People would come and say, "if you go to that loft there, there's a lot of [video] stuff." And Woody summarized the attitude in a 1972 New York Times article: "What is special about video art at this time is that it isn't yet trapped in rigid rules. There are not yet any clichés, and the artists haven't had time to develop the maniacal egos one finds in the other arts. All the video artists are like one big family and thinking about video's big future." 18
The video "family" was not homogenous, though. The Vasulkas were more interested in art and the counterculture than in politics. Consequently, they found themselves situated somewhere between the established artists who were doing conceptual pieces in mainstream galleries and politically active community access groups. Referring to the people who formed such groups as Global Village, People's Video Theater, and Raindance Corporation, Steina delineates these distinctions:
None of them were particularly interested in art, although a lot of them had art backgrounds... This was their anti-art statement ... so that set us immediately on the fringe, because we were never really interested in politics. I saw it as an American internal affair that was very interesting for me to watch as a foreigner, nothing else.
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