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1 New Media Representatio ns: Nam June Paik Nam June Paik

New Media Representations: Nam June Paik

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New Media Representations: Nam June Paik. Enduring Understanding. Students will understand that… the use of ready-mades and other media have created new approaches to art and expanded its definition. Essential Questions. Overarching How did new technology change the meaning of art? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Page 1: New Media Representations: Nam June Paik


New Media Representations: Nam June PaikNam June Paik

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Enduring Understanding

Students will understand that…the use of ready-mades and other media have created new approaches to art and expanded its definition.

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Overarching1) How did new technology change the

meaning of art?2) What role does the artist have in art


Topical1) What role does television play in our

lives?2) How does television influence our

reality?3) How can technology be humanised?

(Give examples)

Essential Questions

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5W1H HowVideo


WhyMedia Technology

WhatThe emergence of media


Video Art



When1932 - 2006


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Bio-Data1932: Born in Seoul, Korea.1956: Graduated from the University of Tokyo

having finished his studies in art history,music history and a thesis on Arnold Schonberg (an Austrian Americancomposer).

1956-8: Studied art and music history, as well as philosophy in the University of Munich.

1963: His first solo exhibition- Exposition of Music- Electronic Television, at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany.

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Bio-Data1966: First multi-monitor installation entitled

TV-Cross; developed the dancing patterns.1967: Worked with magnetic, distorted

television clips.1969-70: Developed the first colour video

synthesizer with Shuya Abe.1979- Became Professor at the Academy of Art

in Düsseldorf.1990s: Abandoned televisions and experimented

with lasers. Became interested in the


2006: Died in his Miami home in USA.

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1928: Introduction of television in US.1930s:Television was already commercially

available.1939: The start of electronic broadcast

in US.1939-45: World War II1950-53: Korean War1960s:Fluxus1967-78: Conceptual Art


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Japan Sony produced first portable video camera in 1965.

As a result, artists quickly seized this new easy-to use medium.

Germany Gerry Schum, a film-maker, found the first gallery for

video as an art form was founded in Hanover in 1969.USA Nam June Paik was stimulated with the country’s variety

and diversity in population and culture. It was a place opened to new ideas and artists could find

acceptance and support easily. It was also home to many artists from Europe.


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Which- FluxusFluxusStarted in the 60s in Germany. Spread to New York as well as Northern European capitals.Similar activities were taking place in Japan and California.It means flow and change, first coined by George Macuinas (also known as the founder of Fluxus).It implies to a state of mind than a style or a movement because social goals are more important than aesthetic goals.It aims to upset the bourgeois (middle class) routines of art and life.

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Which- FluxusFluxusTheir usual mode of representation- mixed-media.Some examples- found poems, mail art, silent orchestras, and collages of readily available materials as scavenged posters, newspapers, and other ephemera (printed material that doesn’t last, eg: tickets, package labels, pamphlets). Artworks can be eccentric and inconsequential.Takes after the Dadaist attitude, eg: anti-art (rejects conventional theories and forms- techniques, materials and display means).Fluxus stands against art-object as non-functional commodity- to be sold as a means of livelihood.

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Different kinds of video art…by Frank Popper1. Use of technological means to generate new visual

imagery.2. Use of video to give performances a more

permanent form.3. Use of video to distribute images & information likely

to be suppressed by the ruling establishment.4. Use of video-cameras & monitors in sculptural

installations.5. Live performances which involve the incidental use

of video.6. Advanced technological creations, often involving

the use of video with computer.

Which- Video Art

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TV Clock

1963 – 81 (There are different versions in different years)

24 monitors are lined up into a curve. Each monitor has an image- compressed into a single line. The lines rotate succeeding on each monitor, suggesting the hand of a clock- representing each hour of the day. It shows the movement of time across the space of the installation. Time in this work is being portrayed as separated static moments. It appears Zen-inspired. Other Zen-inspired works- Zen for TV (1963)

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Nam uses the Degausser- an instrument used by electronics engineer to eliminate electrostatic charges on televisions.

Nam uses it with electromagnets and larger magnets to generate wave patterns on the CTR and thus manipulate the received broadcast image.

He uses these magnets for quite a number of works.

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Concerto for TV Cello and Videotapes, 1971

Galleria Bonino, New York

TV sets are stacked like a cello. The musician (Moorman) plays the artwork as if playing a cello. Video collages of other cellists are also playing on the TV monitors. Live images of the performance Site where she is playing is also fedinto the video being shown on the TVmonitors. Other collaborations with Moorman- Robot K-456, 1964. Cello Sonata No. 1,1964, Action Music, 1965, TV Bra for Living Sculpture, 1969, and many more.

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TV Cello, 1971video tubes, TV chassis, plexiglass boxes,

electronics, wiring, wood base, fan, stool, photograph

Walker Art Center

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TV Buddha, 1974Closed circuit video installation with bronze sculpture, monitor,

Video camera; black-and-white, silent; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

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TV Buddha

1974 -- 82

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The head of a Buddha sits facing its own image in a closed-circuit TV. Closed-circuit TV is using videos to transmit signalsto a specific, or limited sets of monitors (eg: security camera) The Buddha seems to be a metaphor for contemplation. Past and present gazes upon each other- suggests an encounterbetween Oriental divinity and Western media.

TV Buddha

1974 -- 82

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Video Fish, 1975 – 97 (Again, there are different versions)Three-channel video installation with aquariums, water, live fish

And variable number of monitors; colour, silent;Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne. Paris.

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Twenty monitors are lined up in a row and placed at eye-level on pedestals.

Each monitor features edited videotape of synthesized images.

These images range from flying planes and fish to a dancing Merce Cunningham.

A tank filled with water and fish is in front of each monitor.

One has to look through the fish tank to see the images in the monitor.

In the process, the images are converted- the fish tank becomes the television and the television becomes the fish tank.

Here, Nam plays with the depth of the video space through clever editing.

The number and sequence of monitors provide a visually changing but conceptually linked images.

What- Video Fish

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Techno Buddha, 1990

A statue of Buddha sits before a screen with a closed-circuit camera.

The statue is connected to a computer with a telephone receiver.

The use of the power of TV technology to reach out to a bigger population.

The true spiritual essence of religion is being questioned by substituting a physical object of devotion (Buddha) through its virtual electronic manifestation.

That is the physical being of the stone Buddha (a statue of divinity) invaded byelectronic components/parts.

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22Something Pacific, 1986Outdoor Installation

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23Something Pacific, 1986Indoor installation

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What- Something Pacific It’s his first permanent outdoor installation. It is located at the lobby of the university’s Media Center and

the turf around the building. There are several damaged television set in the landscape. Some are paired with small Buddha icons. One, a tiny Sony watchman is put under a miniature

reproduction of Rodin’s The Thinker. The lobby on the other hand houses the functioning monitors. Viewers can manipulate sequences of Nam’s own tapes and

broadcast MTV with a control panel. The outdoor and indoor installation provides different

experiences of time- distant contemplation vs. instant reaction.

The placement of the damaged televisions amidst the landscape says how television has defined the American landscape since WWII.

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The More the Better, 1988 Three channel video installation with 1,003 monitors and steel

structure; color, sound; approx. 18 m high

National Museum of Modern Art, Seoul

Installed in celebration of the1988 Olympics in South Korea.

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Piano Piece, 1993Closed-circuit video sculpture, 120 x

84 x 48"Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund

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Megatron/Matrix by Nam June Paik, 1995 Eight channel computer driven video installation with 215 monitors, color, sound. Megatron: 320 x 685.8 x 61 cmMatrix: 325.1 x 325.1 x 61 cm

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Who’s Your Tree, 1996 Aluminum framework, 31 13”

televisions, 3 25” televisions, 3 laser disc players

The work incorporates footage of Indiana-inspired subjects, such as drag races, native wildlife, and local residents.

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Video Flag, 1985 Two channel video installation with eighty four

monitors, 74 x 138 inches

Watch the video clip here:http://blip.tv/file/56115

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Electronic Superhighway: Continental US, 1995Forty seven channel and closed circuit video installation with 313

monitors, neon, and steel structure; color, sound, approx. 4.5 x 9.75 x 1.2 mCollection of the artist and Holly Solomon Gallery, New York.

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Subject Matter Television- as a container of moving images

and how attractive moving images are. Buddha (a recurring motif)- symbolical of

contemplation and enlightenment. The human body- Nam wishes to integrate

sexuality into his work, for eg: the female body as means to express “erotics of the unconscious” and “the erotics of the performative”. His fascination for the female body can be seen in all the collaborative works with Moorman.


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WhatTheme- Fluxus Inspired Fluxus inspired- (refer to slide “Which”). The process and change is more important- his body of

works embodies a sense of ephemeral (of things that will break down and requires repair).Active marketing vs. passive viewing.

Theme- Time Element Real time vs. recorded time (eg: Real Fish/Live Fish, 1982). Video Fish also treats time as a two-plane coordinate.

The stored and edited time of the video tape and constantly changing action of the fish.

Time as experienced in Zen-derived notions of “randomness and indeterminacy”.

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WhatTheme- Humanize Technology He wants to combine performance with technology-

expressiveness and conceptual power with the possibilities associated with the moving image.

He wants to humanize technology. How?- By remaking the television into an everyday personal

and performative item (cello, piano, bra, chair, bed, etc). “The real issue implied in Art and Technology is not to make

another scientific toy, but to humanize the technology and the electronic medium, which is progressing rapidly” Hence, TV Bra for Living Sculpture is one example to “humanize” technology.

The bra- an intimate and personal belonging of a human/woman thus stimulates for an imaginative and humanistic way of using technology.

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WhatTheme- Media as Power A reaction against conventional broadcasttelevision. TV has always been unexceptional and familiar- part of our everyday culture. Nam wants to subvert or upset our comfort with TV and our uncritical view of it. TV technology has empowering and transformative qualities. For eg: TV can empower conformity.(Can you cite an example of conformity?) Television has pre-determined conditions- it propagates certain standards and notions by the government or conglomerate.

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WhatTheme- Media as Power On the power of media technology;

“ The transmission of Western television and radio across the Iron Curtain was to contribute to the destabilization of the increasingly inflexible Soviet regime. The hunger of young people for Western music and television was a window onto other ideologies and styles of living. Thus, television and culture, ranging from the avant-gardes to pop music, achieved what, as Paik often noted, armaments did not: the collapse of the Soviet Union and its occupation of Eastern Europe.”

- Hanhardt, J.G. -

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WhatTheme- Others To communicate his beliefs and reach the society for the sake of changing it- he has always wanted to change how people watch and interact with the television. Culture- he borrows from culture at large, even pop culture as seen in the images of Who’s Your Tree (culture of Indiana) and Something Pacific (Madonna, pop culture). Pop culture and entertainment- he believes in their power to attract viewers.

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Background His family fled to Hong Kong because of the Korean War.

They later left for Japan. He travelled to Europe in 1956 and decided to settle in

Germany. There, He met John Cage (an American composer) and

George Macuinas when he was in Germany. Macuinas invited him to join the Fluxus movement. He also

met Joseph Beuys Therefore his works have the influences of the Fluxus group. He moved to New York in 1964 (Refer to slide “Where”.)


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WhyInterest Nam was drawn to video through music. He was

deeply interested in composing music. He was attracted to the random quality of television

soundtrack. Music to him “is the manipulation of time”, which

allows him to understand “abstract time” (Q. Are you able to cite an example?)

He thinks that the metaphoric possibilities of sound and sight are simply irresistible.(Q. How can sound and sight in video be metaphoric?)

The many (electronic and optical) workings of a colour television strikes a parallel for Nam between TV and humans- same “wiring” but with different physical attributes and behaviour.

To him, the screen is an electronic canvas and the light is paint.

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Influences John Cage- Nam was tremendously

influenced by Cage’s ideas on composition and performance,

Buddhism- Nam is a Buddhist by faith. Zen Buddhism- a subject that Cage was

interested.Zen aims to discover the Buddha-nature within each person, through meditation and mindfulness of daily experiences.


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Video tapes. Television projects Performances Installations Objects (for eg: large magnets and

electromagnets). Writing Image Processing Films and MTV


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How Sometimes collaborations with musicians (eg: with

Charlotte Moorman), filmakers (eg: Jud Yalkut) and dancers (eg: Merce Cunningham).

The use of video synthesizer- used in tandem with techniques such as colourization, dropping out information to modify recorded image,and editing functions.

He uses distortion- modified TV sets until imagery stretched beyond recognition.

He combined aspects of pop culture and entertainment. His later works involve the use of laser technology.

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The artist expresses his own view of an object in place with the features of the object literally.

He removes/changes colours.

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References Atkins, R.(1990). Art Speak. Aberville Press: New York. Hanhardt, J.G. (2000). The Worlds of Nam June Paik.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: New York Sporre, D. J. (1996). The Creative Impulse, An

Introduction to the Arts. 4th Ed. Prentice Hall: New Jersey.

Von Heydebreck,.T. (2004) Nam June Paik- Global Groove. Guggenheim Museum Publications: New York.

http://www.paikstudios.com/ http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/wrap-around-the-