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Nam June Paik’s Random Access in the Exposition of Music – Electronic Television, Parnass Gallery, Wuppertal
Date/ 1963
Artist(Credit Line)/ Manfred Montwé
Classification/ Photography
Dimensions / 30.4×40.2cm
Medium / Black & white photograph on baryta paper

Taken by Manfred Montwé, this is a photograph of Random Access, one of the works featured in Nam June Paik’s first solo show Exposition of Music – Electronic Television held in Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal in March 1963. A motor-driven cardboard roller was set on two knee-height props. Fragments of magnetic tapes unwound from a spool were attached on a 50cm-wide segment of fabric moving on the roller like a conveyor belt. Tape fragments were also attached on the wall between two sets of fabric conveyor belts, like a city map. Visitors with a metal tape-head separated from a playback equipment went directly to the point they wanted to scrape to listen to the tape. You could hear various sounds depending on the speed and direction of scraping, which resembled pieces of somehow distorted electronic music. Visitors did not listen to the sounds sequentially played back by a machine but they moved themselves to make a sound at a randomly selected spot; therefore, these works were called Random Access. There are photographs showing Tomas Schmit and Peter Brötzmann demonstrating this work.
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