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Nam June Paik Exhibition 《Extraordinary Phenomenon, Nam June Paik》
Overview
Exhibition Title
Extraordinary Phenomenon, Nam June Paik
Period
2017.5.2(Tue) – 5.31(Wed)
2017.6.27(Tue) – 2018.2.4(Sun)
Venue
Nam June Paik Art Center 1F
Organized and Hosted by
Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation, Nam June Paik Art Center
Introduction

Nam June Paik ruptured the authoritarianism of music and the auteurism of visual art, by establishing a new relationship with the audience. Extraordinary Phenomenon, Nam June Paik is to explore his works of art from a standpoint of ‘participation.’ The notion of participation in contemporary art has been developing from the interaction between artworks and audiences, to the involvement in social and political institutions through the very interactions woven in and out of art. Way before the discourses of ‘relational aesthetics’ were brought to the fore engaging with institutions and social systems, Paik already put into practice a new form of art that unsettled conventional ways of art production and its reception.

Such graphic scores as Moving Theater, New Ontology of Music, Symphony for 20 Rooms that composer Paik produced in the early 1960s, all postulated active audiences as integral to actually performing the scores. Most works featured in his first solo show Exposition of Music – Electronic Television held in 1963 were also in a state of flux, indeterminate and transformative, depending on the audience’s actions. This seminal event opened up a new chapter of exhibition histories in terms of its innovation in audience interactivity.

In the exhibition, klavier Intégral and Random Access, and also thirteen experimental televisions introduced there for the first time. His intervention in the television, in particular, by modifying and manipulating both TV sets and broadcast images, was geared not only to changing the relationship between artworks and audiences. It was no less than a joint intervention of the artist and the audience alike in the institutional workings of media systems, and a subsequently formulated proposition for new modes of communication could forge a different kind of social and political relations.

Paik’s idea of participation was much broader than the audience’s interaction with works of art; it was a challenge to the institutionalization of music and visual art, and on a more fundamental level, it was an experimental language of art per se. Paik often spelled out his experimentation on the intersection of art and technology like Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer, Robot K-456, and Good Morning Mr. Orwell, in musical terms. Wolfgang Fortner with whom Paik studied composition in his earlier days at Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, once remarked on Paik as “… so extraordinäre Erscheinung wie Paik… .” What Paik enacted marked the beginning of video art and also of a whole different idea of communication in art, carrying the audience into an unprecedented dimension of participation through fracturing canonicity of art. Extraordinary Phenomenon, Nam June Paik will look into the implications of Paik, the ‘extraordinary phenomenon’ in art history.

Main Works
1. New ontology of Music

I hope must renew the ontological form of music.
In the normal concert,
the sounds move, the audience sit down.
in my sosaid action music,
the sounds, etc., move, the audience is attacked by me.
-Nam June Paik

1
Nam June Paik, New Ontology of Music, 1963, print on paper.
2. Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer

This will enable us to shape as
the TV screen canvas

as precisely as Leonardo
as freely as Picasso
as colorfully as Renoire
as profoundly as Mondrian
as violently as Pollock and
as lyrically as Jasper Johns.
-Nam June Paik

Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer is a humble effort for this day, putting 1,001 ways of instant TV making. We gave up High Fidelity but we won the Super Infidelity… adultery is always more interesting than marriage.
-Nam June Paik

2
Nam June Paik and Shuya Abe, Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer, 1969/1972, Synthesizer(Machine).
3. Magnet TV, Nixon TV, Participation TV, TV Crown

Anyway, if you see my TV, please, see it more than 30 minutes.

〔…〕

Don’t expect from my TV: Shock., Expressionism., Romanti-cism., Climax., Surprise., etc…… for which my previous compositions had the honour to be praised. In Galerie Parnass, one bull’s head made more sensation than 13 TV sets . May-be one needs 10 years to be able to perceive delicate difference of 13 different “distortions” (?), as it was so in perceiving the delicate difference of many kinds of “noises” (?) in the field of electronic music.

Participation TV (the one-ness of creator, audience, and critic) is surely one probable way for this goal… and it is not a small virtue… not at all…
-Nam June Paik
3
Nam June Paik, Magnet TV, 1965/1969, GE Color TV with magnet
Nam June Paik, Nixon TV, 1965/2002, Two 20″ TVs with 2 magnetic coils, Macintosh tube amplifier, switcher
Nam June Paik, Participation TV, 1963/1998, Manipulated television with signal amplifiers and microphone
Nam June Paik, TV Crown, 1965/1999, Color Television manipulated by 2 Audio Generators, 2 Ampliphiers, and a Heat Regulator.
4. Exposition of Music

〔…〕 wanted to let the audience act and play itself. I therefore renounced the interpretation of music. I expose the music. I made various kinds of musical instruments, object sonores, to expose them in a room so that the congregation may play them as they please. I am no longer a cook (composer), but only a ‘feinkosthandler’(delicatessen proprietor).

1) These instruments allow me to combine several sensory activities: touching, blowing, caressing, watching, stepping, walking, running, hearing, knocking…
2) They produce a more serene music than all the serene music of the old days and make the room more mobile than all other movable aisles of the old days. A new category can thus be opened which lies between music and architecture. 〔…〕
-Nam June Paik

4
Nam June Paik, Exposition of Music – Electronic Television: Exhibition Poster, 1963, print on paper.
5. Good Morning Mr. Orwell – New York Live version

Good Morning Mr.Orwell of New Year’s Day, 1984, produced all kinds of feedback. Cage and Beuys are friends, but they have never performed together, Beuys and Ginsberg are two artists who have many things in common (active political involvement, heated performance, complete anti-nuclear naturalism, similar age, romanticism.), but have never met. The heavenly stars (Mars, Saturn, Altair, Vega, etc.) meet periodically, but the earthly ones do so very rarely. When I ponder what mysteries the encounter with other people holds for our insubstantial lives, I feel it is a terrible shame that great geniuses may pass their prime without ever meeting.

Interactive things have to be live. We wanted to use interactive TV because the best use of TV is that you talk back to it like a telephone.
-Nam June Paik

5
Nam June Paik, Good Morning Mr. Orwell – New York Live version, 1984, Video, 57min 20sec, color, sound
6. Robot K-456

I thought of it mostly as a Happening tool. I thought it should meet people in the street and give one second of surprise. Like a quick shower. I wanted it to kick you and then go on. It was a street-music piece. I took the robot with me to the United States in 1965, where it opened the Second Avant-Garde Festival that fall, in Judson Hall. Later I brought it to the streets of New York, to 57th Street, and then Park Avenue, and one sunny Sunday in Washington Square. All the people screamed when they saw the robot coming. One half-crazy black man screamed over and over: “God made this robot.” The happiest moment in my life was when I brought the robot to Washington Square: it was really a big sensation.
-Nam June Paik

6
Nam June Paik, Robot K-456, 1964/1996, Electronic components, steel, aluminum, fabric, rubber, wires, and foam rubber
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