Nam June Paik, David Atwood, Manfred Montwé, Joseph Beuys, Ira Schneider, Jud Yalkut, Peter Moore
29 January 2015, 5pm
Thursday, 29 January 2015
-15:15 Hapjeong Subway Station (exit #2)
-16:00 Hannam-dong across from Hannam The Hill (the former site of Dankook Univ.)
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Participation TV, 1963/1998, prepared TV, microphone, amplifier, dimensions variable Nixon TV, 1965/2002, prepared TV, coil, amplifier, switcher, dimensions variable TV Crown, 1965/1999, prepared TV, audio signal generator, amplifier, cooler, dimensions variable
Nam June Paik created or transformed images by manipulating TV circuits and such an attempt is well represented in the 13 TVs displayed in his first solo exhibition in 1963, titled Exposition of Music: Electronic Television. In Participation TV, one of the 13 televisions, when viewers speak into the microphones hooked up to a TV, audio signals are converted into video signals and “dancing patterns” are created on the screen. TV Crown produces constantly moving shapes of a crown on the TV screen connected to audio signal generators and amplifiers. Nixon TV shows the distorted face of American politician Richard Nixon by attaching copper coils to the front of the black-and-white TV screen. The technique of manipulating TV images with audio signals and magnetic forces is also used in his video synthesizer later, and becomes a basic formative principle frequently used in Paik’s video works.
Device for Video Editing and Synthesizing, 156x208x150cm
In 1969, Nam June Paik, in collaboration with a Japanese engineer Shuya Abe, invented the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer that made it possible to edit analogue video images as they want. The video synthesizer supporting multiple channels of inputs and outputs offers infinite possibilities of image combinations due to its device to change the color and shape of video images with a simple manipulation. We can make patterns with audio signals or magnetic forces by inputting things such as edited video sources and images taken from the camera, switch the axis of TV circuits, or produce complex feedback to resynthesize by filming the video images on the output monitor. None of the three editions of Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer that had been produced until 1972 work properly today, whereupon the Nam June Paik Art Center collaborated with Abe on the ‘Abe Video Synthesizer Restoration Project’ in 2011 and restored the function of the synthesizer.
13-ch video installation, TV; color, sound, dimensions variable
At first Nam June Paik placed magnets on black-and-white analogue TV sets and adjusted the distance between cathode ray tube monitors and magnets to create the shapes of the moon. The Nam June Paik Art Center has its version of the year 2000 which consists of 13 TV monitors: 12 TV monitors showing 12 footages from the full moon to the dark moon and to the growing moon again, and the 13th monitor playing a video E Moon produced in 1997 with birds around the full moon and music playing in the background. Along with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Paik’s meditative voice and metallic sounds are heard. Since a long time ago, people have seen human faces or certain shapes from light and dark sides of the moon. It is the same with TV to read a story from the shapes of light and experience all sorts of emotions. In his retrospective at Whitney Museum of American Art in 1982, Paik said this installation work was inspired by a Korean folkloric fairy tale that a rabbit is pounding rice in a mortar with a pestle on the moon, which would probably be interpreted in Korea and Central Asia only.
Video installation, Buddha statue, TV, closed-circuit video camera; color, silent, dimensions variable
Among Nam June Paik’s various TV Buddha series in which a Buddha statue is placed in front of a TV set, facing each other, this version in the Nam June Paik Art Center is an installation work comprising a Buddha statue watching its real-time video image on TV screen taken from a closed-circuit camera. This scene not only provokes smiles in that the Buddha, the symbol of oriental wisdom as well as a religious seeker, watches TV, which is a kind of mass media representing modern civilization, or he shows a narcissistic attitude fascinated by his images on the screen, but also brings up a serious topic with the Buddha reflecting on himself while looking at himself on the screen. During a performance in Cologne in 1974, Paik sat in front of a TV set in place of a Buddha statue in TV Buddha wearing a Buddhist priest’s robe. But most importantly, viewers can see themselves on TV screen while leaning toward a TV screen to watch; this work is making “the open electronic environment encouraging viewers’ participation” that Paik emphasized.
1-ch video sculpture, antique TV and radio cases, color, silent, 116x141x33cm
Bob Hope, one of the real people that Nam June Paik’s robot series featured, was a very popular comedian, actor, singer, dancer and author, considered as the embodiment of the American broadcasting culture. In a broadcast program in 1984, Hope was asked questions about video art and Paik. Hope did not know about these at all at that time; however, he expressed his positive views on a TV of the future to be developed by experimental artists, and wished to become part of the future. As if to respond to this, Paik’s Bob Hope transforms Hope into a kind of robot with antique TV and radio cases, and five TV monitors feature him in computer graphics.
1-ch video sculpture, antique TV case, antique radio case, bulb; color, silent, 152x185x56cm
Charlie Chaplin, a comic actor and a movie director, was one of the celebrities that Nam June Paik’s robot series featured. The body of Charlie Chaplin is composed of antique TV and radio cases, and the bulbs are its two hands. Five monitors show the edited scenes from Chaplin’s movies. Paik made robot series featuring people who gave him artistic inspiration or showed creative possibilities of popular art. This is Paik’s homage to Chaplin’s movies, which were very popular among the public with their comic scenes while delivering messages of sharp criticism about society.
1-ch video sculpture, radio, small-sized monitor, gramophone speaker, antique radio case; color, silent, 108x183x61cm
This piece consists of 9 antique vacuum-tube radios in different shapes. The robot wears a red cone hat which is in fact a gramophone’s speaker. The visual elements of the radio parts, i.e., horizontal and vertical lines of speakers, circular dials, frequency numbers, and attached clocks, all contribute to the overall composition of the sculpture. Three of the radios have small monitors inserted inside, showing the same video in three different ways. The first monitor is placed in a normal position, the second one upside down, and the third one behind the speaker. The videos are about Charlotte Moorman performing with Paik as a human cello, their performances in Guadalcanal, Paik’s Robot Opera on the street, and his manipulation of images with experimental TVs.
2-ch video installation, TV, colored bulb; b&w, silent, dimensions variable
This is Nam June Paik’s first chandelier-shaped installation with 38 black-and-white TV monitors and colored bulbs, hang from the ceiling. This installation work distinctively used black-and-white monitors and is simpler than Paik’s other video chandeliers. Showing moving abstract patterns, TV monitors not only have illuminating functions, but ceaselessly transmit information. We can understand this work in the same context that Paik related natural objects such as the moon or the candle and traditional media of communication to TV. As he emphasized, this chandelier makes us think about the era where TV becomes fundamental environment.
2-ch video sculpture, TV, frame; color, silent, 230x190cm
In a splendid antique wooden frame painted in gold, 20 color monitors are showing rapidly changing colorful abstract video images. The title “Fontainebleau” was probably taken from the Fontainebleau castle in France, the splendid residence of French kings including Napoleon as well as the prototype of the ‘gallery,’ a space for hanging the paintings side by side. Especially the gallery of Francis I shows the paintings surrounded by splendid golden decoration. This work directly represents Nam June Paik’s idea: “as collage replaced oil painting, cathode ray tube will replace canvas.”
Wood and metal utensils, 32×7.5x2cm
Nam June Paik drew a TV screen on a small old piece of wood, which seems to be a kind of kitchen utensils, and gave it a title of “First Portable TV.” In this work, Paik’s own wit is well reflected. A corrugated metal plate attached to the front side of the wooden piece looks like scanning lines of TV and the two handles on both sides make us think it is portable. It can be regarded as a witty work of Paik because only its shape is similar to a TV set without a light source, while his other works are associated with the images of traditional lights such as the moon, the candle, the chandelier, etc. However, in today’s world where a large amount of information is produced and reorganized, and drastically changes our life as a result, depending on the scale of the frame with the advent of new visual media, Paik’s eyes to catch the TV frame from ordinary objects show us his insight into the media environment that brings about fundamental changes.