Violin Power, 1978
In the first closed-circuit audio/video performances of Violin Power (1970 to 1978) the primary effect observed was the actual movements of the bow on the strings of the violin immediately deflecting the image position of exactly this gesture. Besides being the performer, Steina plays the violin and the video so that in intermediary ways the observer and the observed converge. The languages of the two media, music and video, are interconnected according to their abstractness where the sound creates the waveforms of the image. Furthermore, music is visually explored as a medium developing temporal and spatial features: not only does the sound spread the scan lines so that they become horizontally visible thereby exploring temporal dimensionality, but Steina also uses the Scan Processor to modulate the soundwaves until they build up spatial forms of the image. Through the Scan Processor, brighter parts of the "image" are lifted so that the horizontal lines also vertically deflect and create sculptural pattern.
Yvonne Spielmann © 2004 FDL
While Steina, in the beginning, interfaced the sounds of her acoustic violin via microphone, since 1991 she performs with a MIDI violin to increase the variety of programs: "The Zeta Violin is a five-stringed electric violin with a MIDI output. The assignment at the moment is that stops on A and E string point to frame locations on the disk. The D and G strings control speed and direction and the C string is a master controller assigned to address segments on the disk. In another programming scheme, the C string controls which upper strings get assigned their function, as I experiment to make the performance more musical." While this setting was originally used for performing with a laser disk player, since the late nineties other schemes and string assignments are performed on a PowerBook using the software program Image/ine, developed in 1997 by Tom Demayer at Steim, Amsterdam, in consultation with Steina.