Madelon Hooykaas was born in 1942 in Maartensdijk, the Netherlands, and Elsa Stansfield (1945-2004) in Glasgow, Scotland. Since 1972, they have been working together in London as well as in Amsterdam under the name 'White Bird', and later as 'Hooykaas/Stansfield' or 'Stansfield/Hooykaas'. From the 1970s onwards, they produced many video environments, in which they combine video with photography, objects and sound, making the first site-specific installations.
The combination of different media and materials enables them to introduce various levels of perception into their work. The works stay close to reality and human nature, in both the themes themselves and the treatment of these themes. Particularly in the early days of their collaboration, Stansfield/Hooykaas explored the specific character of the medium of video. Typical elements of the medium, such as time and movement, the electronic line structure of the video image, the framing of the screen and the monitor as an object, are investigated and placed in connection with the environment. The viewer often becomes part of the situation, by being confronted with himself via a closed-circuit recording that is part of an installation, as for example, in 'Memory Window' (presented at De Appel in 1977). Stansfield/Hooykaas's way of working included making recordings on their travels, which were edited later, after a sort of 'incubation' period. An example of such a process is the redefinition of the video frame by means of a recording of a recording, as for instance in 'See Through Lines' (1977).
Although the technological possibilities of video remained an important theme for Stansfield/Hooykaas, their work was far from being rigid or analytical in nature. It usually consists of intuitively created, sensorial investigations with a certain poetic value. Their work has been exhibited at a number of museums of modern art around the world, including the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and at big international exhibitions like the 1982 Sydney Biennial and the 1987 Documenta. In 1998, they had a solo exhibition at the Netherlands Media Art Institute, for which the cd-rom 'Person to Person' was produced in collaboration with the Artlab of NIMk. This project was presented together with a series of tapes and installations. Stansfield/Hooykaas have realized more than 90 videotapes, installations and sculptures, of which around 40 videotapes are in the collection of the Netherlands Media Art Institute.