edited by Woody Vasulka, Peter Weibel – Buffalo Heads: Media Study, Media Practice, Media Pioneers, 1973-1990

Woody Vasulka

Routledge, ISBN 9780415961325, U.S.A., 2008, English
The “gargantuan book about media art” seems to be trademark ZKM. This new tome is 840 pages and weights 3.5 kilos, and is similar to “Future Cinema” and “CTRL-SPACE”, two other massive books about video art history (from different perspectives). All these books are co-edited by Peter Weibel (ZKM’s deus ex machina), who is also among the authors. The three books are the heavy “catalogues” of respective exhibitions, the first one hosted at ZKM. Weibel went on to co-curate Future Cinema and this latest exhibition. He is also among those artists who have had work selected in all three exhibitions. So this is only an internal affair then? Well, not really. Even if all the above seems more than coincidental, we are still talking about landmark exhibitions by ZKM, the biggest media art institution in Germany. What has been produced again (and thankfully this is well-documented in this latest book) is media art history. It’s a precious document consisting of many photographs, screenshots and reproductions of original materials such as flyers, posters, programs, and lots of texts relating to the visionary foundation of the first “Department of Media Study” at the State University of New York at Buffalo, in 1973 by Gerald O’Grady. He’s also one of the eight figures celebrated here together with James Blue, Tony Conrad, Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, Steina, Woody Vasulka, and Weibel. In each chapter there are jewels (both in visual and text formats), mostly unpublished before, confirming that here, the research factor is still the primary quality test.