Collage de Collage

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    In th eir exami nation of television , Paik and Vosre ll confronted a pow erfulstate apparat us rh at , in bot h Europe and th e U nited Stat es , loom ed large beyond the high -art aura of mu seums and a rt ga lleries. T elevis ion (and latervideo) was nor coded by traditional arc-world categ ories and , like film beforeit , offe red a new means for reproducing and cransforming the world around usthrough record ed images . Because television was seen as a mass medium , itspossibilities as a flexible elect ron ic and real- time medium were barel y exploredor recognized in rhe years before artists g ained access CO a por table video technology . Th e achievements of Paik and Voscell, both independenrly and col lab oratively, were to strip tel evision of irs insricutional meanings and expose ir asa powerful co-oprive force in cap ita list soc iety. In rhei r writings and actions,Park and Vostell were attracted to both ideo log ica l and ep iscemological issues.By fusing the SOCI al and aes thetic in sin gle-cha nnel and mu ltimedia workswith in insrallation , per formance, and relevisIon format s, th ey radical]y quesrio ned the basis of art as an elirisr and nonpub lic discourse.

    Th e incorpo rati on of the te levision set into artworks began amid a con stellation of art and no nart events in a period wh en th e pr ocess of creation andth e perception of art were changing . A number of movements , which wereide nti fied by the labels Gutai , assemb lage, environments, happenings , rnusiqueconc rere, lettr isrne , nouveaux rea Iisres, cone ret e poet ry, pop , fIuxus , mi n imalism , objecnve dance , and avanr-garde film , a ll shared an engagement WIth direct experience , the ph ysical pr esence of m ate ria ls , and by excens ion , th e socialand cultura l worlds t hese art is ts inhabited . By rejeccing th e not ion of t he heroic , existential ar n sr-self, which had been associated with absr racr expressionism , these movements reevaluated th e ar t obj ect and its sou rces. Ic wou ld be amistake, however , to define this period as a marginal phase or experiment insome larger narrative of art history; rather, I wou ld argu e that this period wasnot peripheral bu t located a major effort to demolish both th e bo undaries between art forms and pr actices in addition to th ose high er battlements th atsanctioned off art from th e political and social.

    The acknowledgm ent of th e everyd ay was articulated in various parodisticand ironically c ritical agendas : the repl ication of popular cu lture and consumergoods (pop ar t); the performance of everyday gestures and movements (da nceand performance art); th e reducti on of method ro a fundamental material base(early m in im a lism); a skeptical reversal of high cultu ral Standards and sanctions(Fluxus) ; th e revision of language as a med iu m of visual and linguistic expressio n (Ietcrism): th e reworking of th e everyday visual environment (nouveauxreali stes); and the joining of different media and materials in public actions(happenings) . These st rategies reoriented artistic practice away from p revioushierarchies and standardized categories to ward an ironic , detached, and explor atory approach tha t acknowledged th e quotid ian ebb and flow of life. One ofthe inescapab le faces of this dai ly li fe was th e om nip resence of television.

    ... collage actions to cbange 1118 environment . ..Wolf Vostell

    A. eollage technic replaced oil-paint. the cathodelay ."be will replace the Cli l lVU .

    Narn June PaikII IS th e th esis of th is pape r that artists working w ith video in the ear ly

    Ii ) ( 'o s were engaged in a utopian impulse to refashion televis ion into a dial" I IHof visual and audi to ry experiences th at would allow th em to reco nsriturerhemsclves as an eve r-renewing community of a rrists.

    The focus of my arre nt ion is on Fluxus and th e nouv eaux reali sres, tworlil.lps that incorporated th e "r ea l" into their wor k, an aes rherrc tech niq ue tha t


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    en Rauschenberg , John Ch amberlain. and Richard Stankiewicz, reexaminedth e aesthet ic rre arrnenr of the object by pu rsu ing th e approptia tion of rhe realto new limits. It IS the corn posters of th e "a fhch istes" (Hains , Villegle , Du frene , and Mimmo Ro tella) that I am particu larly interested in , especially inrelation to th e de-collage of Wolf Vosrell and Fluxus . Th e spectator participates in th e process as he or she deci ph ers and reexamines the consumer objectwith in t he tex t of th e work . T he poster as a contai ner of com mercial an d polirical messages was a pr eelectronic form of public ad vert isement. The visual andlinguistic econom y of slog ans an d g raphic announce me nts IS rom apart by theartist to reveal an archeolog ical lay er of hidden messages , deconstrucred to ex pose their material and ideolog ical base .As the Happening is !fie fusion of various arts. socybernetics is the exploitation of boundary regions between and across v.rious ltxisting sci-enees.

    Nam June Paik

    mareel duchamps has declared rllBdymad e 0bieets as art, & the lutu risis deelared noises asan- i t is an Important characteristic of my efforts& !fIose of my colleagues to declare as art Ihe 10 tal event, comprising noise/obiecl/movemenl/colorl& psych 0Iogy-a merging of eIements, sothall i 'e (man} can be art -

    Wolf Vostell

    Draw ing upan the PIuxu s aes thct ic, Paik and VostcII removed re levisionfrom its conven t ional sett ing by incorporating it int o th e ir performances andinstallation s. In so doing , they cha lIenge d what Ervrng Goffman has called th e"organization of experien ce" by inventing th e " prim ary frameworks " of the soc ial order. I By violating rhe social and c ultu ral frames of reference we us e toorganize ou r everyda y li fe , Pai k and Vosrell " broke frame " (Go ffma n) . Th eyemployed humor-def ined here as a su bversive acrron from inside th e framethat mocks Or undermines conventions of behavior- c o highlight the obvious .As Umbeno Eco noted , humor " rem inds us of th e presence of law char we nolonger have reason to obey . Jn so doi ng it underrn ines th e law . It makes usfeel the uneasiness of living under the law- a n y The work of Paik andVoscell attempted to un dermine (h e "law " of tel evision by e mploying collagean d de-collage to make us un easily aware of how televi sion functions as a me dium shaping ou r world views .

    Nam June Paik was born in Korea and ed uca ted in J apan where he stud ied Western rnodermsm in music . In th e 195 0S he mo ved co West German yin order to pursue his interest in composition and performance . l n his performanccs Paik used his body as a metaphor for and ' x t l ' n ~ l o r l III duo mu sical in

    ru mc nr . He created a number of " prepared " pianos -s- inscrumenrs decoratedwith noisemakers, clocks , an d assorted household ob jects . He would chop,wreck , or otherwise violate (he pianos , often o bta inin g exrraord inary sounds.

    Having a t tac ked on e of th e most cherished symbols of Western cul ture,Il"l bourgeois lite, the piano, Paik went after th e televi sion set , whi ch wa s fastI.," om ing a new icon . H is approach to television was tir sr delineated in his ex hibi tro n ar the Galerie Parnass in Wupper tal . W esr Germany, wherehr filled a room with televisions th at were ra ndomly scarrered about on theirudcs , on th ei r barks , or upside dow n . Th e apparatus was scratched a nd di sIt /ollm:d , and its screen was either fill ed with abs tra ct noise or patterns generI,!t 'd b y magn et s applied to the se t , or was lefr blank ; thus str ipped o f T V 's11"11 ] i t ional connorat ions and assoc iar ions , ir no longer fu Ifilled th e funct ionl hrll television usually serves in the home . By uulizi ng the co ncep t of " breakIl l ) ; rhe frame ," Pai k su bverted nor onl y wh at was see n on th e screen, bu t also ',.,lknge u th e way In which tel evision is under stood as an object of dally life .

    In [ 964 Park moved to New York , and th e follow ing year he presented aPll t ' an ist exh ibit ion at (he N ew School , "Na m )u ne Paik : Electronic TV ,( " lor TV Experiments , 3 Robots , 2 Ze n Boxes a nd 1 Zen Ca n ." In th is instal1,111011, televisi on s were rem ade so that new images co u ld be crea ted , of ten byli lt: view ers th em selves. Among th ese pi eces we re Demagnetizer (or Life Ring)( , . )6 ')) , a circu lar e lectr o m ag n et th at crea ted wave pat terns on the telev ision

    l lI 't n ; and MaKnet TV ( 1965) , a television set wit h a large m agnet placed on1"1 ' tI'lat could be moved ro manipulate the a bs tract image on th e screen. In." ld l l1.ll tl (0 th ese parr ir iparory pieces created with magn et s , Paik in collaboraI'''H with ju d Yalkur created pi eces suc h as Videotape Study No. .J (1967 -69),\\ilH'r h distorted the received image from br oad cast tel evision . By manipulating"" 1I 1< lrrack as well as image , Paik and Yalkur gave a wry and sacincal com IH ('III,lry on th e pol it ics and content of broadcast tel evisi on. Paik employed the,II l , , , L : ~ techniques of deconsrrucring im ages and tec h niques through chance1'11I( 'l l l I::S 10 order to expose the ir hypocrisy . Th ese work s becam e a model forI vn-wcr-controllcd television , a concept Park has pu rsued throug hout his ra-It l O

    1'ik was always at the forefront in appropriar ing new vid eo technology,'" h ils the Sony Porrapak in 196'), ,1S we ll as in de veloping new tools for im

    "I\" mak ing as he did in creating the Paik-Abe video synt hesizer wi rh the japa11" '1 "llf.:inecr Sh uya Ab c . In Global Groooe ([ 9 73), prod uced throug h th e Tele

    l.uhorarnry at WNET In New York , Pai k introduced a global mo del of 1 i ~ ' ~ tclevrsion, proclaiming a future "T V GUide as thick as the Manhattan

    II 11'1111 I l l ' d irector y. " In this work. Paik devel oped a co llage technique by sy n"" " 11/1111\ im a ,l-;g:; fro n .1 a v,lri et y of sources (Japalwst: television. avanr -gardchllllllla k(r s such Robert lind Jonas Mekss , a nd other art ists Crom Johnt .111' 10 Kurc.m fnlk d:ItJC

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    J une Paik and J ud Y alkut, VidiOJape SINdyNo. J. 1967- 69 .

    to his g lobal sate llite projects such as GoM Morning Mr, Uruel! (J 986) , whichinvit ed the parrici par ioo of per for mers and ar tis ts around th e world co be pa rtof h is "G lobal Gr oove" ex travaga nza , an incer nacional mi x of synthesized im ages th at combined and recornbi ned wit h eac h ot her in both real -rime an dposrproduced m odes ,

    By th e mi d-J 95 0S, th e Ge rm an-born ar t ist Wolf Vosrell had begu n toprod uce a remarkable series of multimedia projec ts, pe rforma nces, and act ions .His artist's publ icarion De-(o fllage , CO which Paik contributed , doc um entedVostell ' s con cept of de-collage, a ki nd of happening event th ar often took p laceo n a large scale and involved an engagement with th e public space as a soc iale nvironme nt . In the De-colllage p ublication , all mann ers of te xt and info rmation were erased in a rechruque that revealed d ifferent ele me nts by tearing offrhe surface to re veal new com binat ions . Th is was op posed to the collage techniqu e of adding on and Joining d ifferen t materials in new combinations , [n hi sd (:-I..'ollagc project s that incorpora ted te levision, Vosrel ] arti l;lIlat cd a powerful(d t iq u(; nf rhe medium as ideol og y . to 1I0d l:T rnilll.' t1w pn lirl ('ill

    assump tio ns of soc ial discourse a nd the com modity definiuon s of high-ar tcu lt u re .

    Vostc ll 's performances ex plored rh e bo unda r ies between th e prima ryframes of organized exper ience ; in h is v ide o wo rks , th e soc ial a nd cult uralmeaning of tel evision was t ran sfor med and , In rhe p rocess. so was o ur relationto ir , !n lu s T V De-milage ( {96 1), a wa ll d isplay in a Par isran departme ntsto re, Vosrell p roposed distor tin g th e received broadcast Imag e in orde r to subver t the o rd inar y frame of re ference , a de -co llage techniq ue t har rei ied on randorn Inter ference with rhe broadcast to cause a consran rl y changi ng erasure of(he Image . Th e iron rc in tention of Vosre ll's install arron was to comment o nprog ra mmi ng wr t hm th e very ma rke t place (h ac re levrsron se rves- the depart II ) Co t sro re .

    Two other projects were presen ted at th e 196 " Yam Fesrival organ ized byRobert Wa tts, George Brech t, and Allan Kap row at G eorge Segal's far m inNew Je rsey and concu rrently in an inst allation at th e Smolin Ga llery In Ne wYork C lry , A performance of T V De-mIlage in New Je rsey bega n inside a she dwhere a relevrsion was cove red WI rh ob jects, such as ba rbed wire and a pi cturelrarn e , which dc-collagcd rh e se t by refranu ng il and re mov ing it from Irs cusw mary conrcxr. In a mock ce remon ial i nte rment , Vosretl , wit h Dick Hi ggi ns ,lIyo, AI Hansen, a nd Others, ea rne d t hc telev isron rnro a he lJ where a ho lewas Ju g i n th e gr ound with shovel and jackha mm er. Th e broadcas t image wasi hcn alte red and tran sformed , t he set was remo ved and d estroyed. a nd finall y{he relevrsion set itself was bu rred . In t hrs pubhc act io n of de-col lage , Vosrcllcom mented o n th e public mst rrution l.lf relevision as som ething to be conlrunred and tr ansformed th rou gh arc. The text p repared by Vos re ll for th e(ven t IS a description of de-co llage TV .

    TV-picture De-fonnalionwith

    1fI1111netic zones00 IT YOURSELF

    Wolf VoslellHow to de-educate the educational TV???

    Nam June Paik'TV T rouble ( 196 ) ) CI t rhe Smo lin Ga llery cons rsred of a roo m filled wit h

    Irlcvision s resn n g on top of th e furnitu re and file cab inets. Or laid o n th ei r',j , lc- : T Vs whose recepr Ion had been d ist ort ed o r red uced to s imp le waveI',IIIl:ls . As a commen tary on borh office space as infor ma tio n Storage and on[,'!t'vi" on as a for m of information, (he piece was a de-coll ag e of the .ISwell as of television Itself. By de co nsrruc un g rhe ideo logy of televi sion , Vosn-lld lcll ivc ly "b roke th e (rarne." t ",king fi r! (')111 or the arc world in order l(J help11 '1 understand rhc real fW) 1;1 1Un li f ' I l ' \ \ ! l I wll h i", society

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    I05leli. De-cof/.agf PeronIJdJl cc. 196 , . Peter Moore

    Th e srrarcg ies employed by N am June Paik and Wolf Vosrell are closelyaligned co those of Fluxus and the nouveaux realisres. Park is identified wirhVosre ll In th at th ey sh ared collabora tion s and int erests as me m bers of t he International Fluxus movement . Ho wever , m y po in t is not to delineate their di fferences or sirnilariues or to ascertain wh o di d what first, for Paik and Vosrel lare nor alone in th e early hi story of video as an arc form . Nor should we setinfluences on th e earl y hi story of vid eo an on ly In te rm s of th o se ar tists whodirectly emplo yed the medium. Th e roles that these movements played wereimportant both an hist orically and cultu rally as example s of the reciprocal rel ationship that exists between evo lvrng mo des of de piction a nd perceiving .

    These early p ieces demonstrat ed th e need for artist s to question telev i sion's economic and Ideological power (as exemplified in Vosrell's work) and tocreate new tools and experi ences ou r of video and tel evision (as embodied int he extraordinary career of Pa ik), By q uestioning th e norton of a h ig h arc remo ved from everyday experience. Fluxus and other, co nstellatio ns of ar tists a ttempted a d ialogue between artist , artwork , and public. Th e d e-collat,\ed poste rs of VjlJeftl&, wh i{;,h were u pped a nd torn aparr ro reveal a lt e red alig nments,W