Woody. Rather, this type of imaging challenged the dominance of the camera, and this challenge had implications that extended to fundamental perceptual issues.
The theory that Woody first articulated in the mid-'70s and has continually refined reevaluates not only cinematic form but what we generally call "reality." "Since we look at reality through our eyes, the reality has total dependence on perception, on how images are formed in the eye." 32 In other words, because the camera lens has come to represent an extension of human vision, it has been equated with a truthful rendering of reality.
According to Woody, electronically-generated, non-camera images - based on neither the lens nor the eye - indicate the potential for a new visual code that would supplant the traditional lens-bound mode of visual organization which has come to be accepted as most "real." He described his goal in 1978:
I can at least unleash some attack against the tradition of imaging, which I see mostly as camera-obscura bound, or as pinhole organizing-principle defined. This tradition has shaped our visual perception, not only through the camera obscura, but it's been reinforced, especially through the cinema and through television- It's a dictatorship of the pinhole effect, as ironic and stupid as it sounds to call it that. 33
Woody's work with the Rutt/Etra, which he characterized as "the inevitable descent into the analysis of smaller and smaller time sequences," was a first step toward discovering a new code. The code was derived from nature, in that the devices he was using - in particular, the Rutt/Etra - were capable of revealing and displaying as waveforms the electromagnetic forces that occur in nature. These become perceivable as sounds and images only when artificially processed by oscillators, and displayed on oscilloscopes or video monitors, or processed through devices like the scan processor. Hence, Woody's pursuit was not so much the investigation of video's inherent properties as a formalist end in itself, rather, it was more phenomenological, directed at challenging culturally determined notions of what constitutes reality.
Meanwhile, Steina took a different, though related, tack in Machine Vision, a series of tapes and installations begun in 1975. By utilizing a variety of mechanized modes of camera control - originally built by Woody for film work - Steina began to set up apparatuses designed to disassociate the camera from a human point of view.
Habitually, by looking, we keep selecting, subjectively "zooming," and "framing" the space around us. I wanted to create a vision that can see the whole space all the time.... And it too derived from my watching so many videotapes, watching an
-->> next page