[Nam June Paik Art Center’s photography collection] When the body and media become one

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2. When the body and media become one
It was in March 1963 that Nam June Paik found his way to his first solo show Exposition of Music – Electronic Television in Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal. This exhibition is of paramount importance now that it put media artist Paik’s career into orbit in full swing. It is not only because he brought television as an artistic medium for the first time in art history, but because the concepts explored in his practices of performance were consolidated around the two poles of music and television in this exhibition. Architect Rolf Jährling opened Galerie Parnass at his architecture office in 1949 and he organized more than 160 exhibitions and concerts until 1965, particularly Fluxus actions and happenings of the early 1960s. Here is a sketchy glimpse of Manfred Montwé’s photographs of Exposition of Music – Electronic Television.

Fig1. Nam June Paik, Klavier Integral, 1963, 30.4×40.2cm, B&W photography 사진1 Photo by Manfred Montwé © montwéART

Fig2. Nam June Paik, Klavier Integral, 1963, 30.4×40.2cm, B&W photography 사진2 Photo by Manfred Montwé © montwéART

Fig3. Klavier Integral demonstrated by Gallerist Rolf Jährling, 1963, 30.4×40.2cm, B&W photography 사진3 Photo by Manfred Montwé © montwéART

In the central hall of the gallery, there were four pianos displayed, a symbol of classical music, under the title of Klavier Integral. The pianos were, however, prepared in the way they could be ‘played’ in a completely different way. The front cases of two pianos were removed, and their keys and strings were covered with everyday objects, all tangled with electric cables. The objects suspended, stuck and nailed on to the pianos were a doll head, a whistle, a horn, a plume, a spoon, a pile of coins, toy sundries, wires, photographs, a padlock, a brassiere, an accordion, an aphrodisiac, a disjoined arm and lever of a record player, and so on. Visitors were invited to play the piano freely. When the keys were pressed, you could hear a strange sound or see objects moving; or you would find that your action of playing the piano turned on a lamp, a siren, a ventilator or a radio in the room. Another prepared piano of Exposition of Music was called ‘Piano for Arthur Køpcke’ modeled on his Shut Books. As Køpcke made a book that could not be read by gluing its pages, Paik slotted a wooden panel inside the piano and closed the lid so that the keys could not be pressed and the strings did not vibrate.

Fig4. View from entrance into the hall with the Ibach piano destroyed by Joseph Beuys Aktion, 1963, 30.4×40.2cm, B&W photography 사진4 Photo by Manfred Montwé © montwéART

Fig5. View from entrance into the hall with the Ibach piano destroyed by Joseph Beuys Aktion, 1963, 30.4×40.2cm, B&W photography 사진5 Photo by Manfred Montwé © montwéART

One of Klavier Integral was an Ibach piano, whose lid and hammer were removed and which was laid down to expose keys and strings. Paik’s intention was to allow viewers to tread or run on it, th