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Nam June Paik’s 80th Anniversary : Nostalgia is an Extended Feedback
Period/ 2012.07.20(Fri) ~ 2013.01.20(Sun)
Venue/ Nam June Paik Art Center

It is with great honor that we invite you to the special exhibition to celebrate Nam June Paik’s 80th Anniversary. The opening ceremony of this special exhibition on 20 July 2012, Nam June Paik’s birthday, will mark the beginning of the various commemorative events that we organize, such as an international symposium, performances, special lectures, video screenings and education programs. They will provide an important opportunity to reevaluate Nam June Paik’s art and thought in light of its values for today.

For Paik, ‘nostalgia’ was not a mere yearning for the past. It was rather a practical act of ruminating on his dreams and passions for the future that had been impossible to realize in the past. Similarly, the exhibition wishes to go beyond a conventional retrospective of the artist. Unfolding ‘the future of the past’ that Paik envisioned, we hope this exhibition will become a convivial feast of science, technology, philosophy, arts and culture all together.
Paik tried to incorporate the potential values of cybernetics, robotics and informatics for humans into art. His unusual view of the world was not that man and nature would devastate each other due to scientific technology, but that man, machine, and nature would be able to come together. We believe that all contemporary artists participating in this exhibition would also have a sense of community with a strong nostalgia for this world view of Paik’s.

To coincide with the exhibition opening, the refurbished lobby of the Nam June Paik Art Center will meet visitors, offering a space where one can take a rest and enjoy oneself. The exhibition spaces are also renovated to illuminate Paik’s major works that have been rarely seen in the public before. We expect the “House Where Nam June Paik Lives Long” will become a more familiar place to visitors. The support and encouragement of all of you who take part in Paik’s 80th anniversary events will generate a ‘feedback’ with a great resonance and help the precious seeds sewn by Paik grow to be creative fruits in this land.

Director, Nam June Paik Art Center


Friday 20 July 2012 – Sunday 20 January 2013


FRIDAY 20 JULY 2012, Nam June Paik Art Center

Special Lecture NJP Lounge :
Nam June Paik in Retrospect by Takehisa Kosugi

Exhibition Opening & 2012 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize Ceremony

Opening Performance : Nam June Paik’s Friends

Performance 1
In Memory of Nam June Paik by Byung-ki Hwang(Gayageum Player, Composer) and others

Performance 2
July 20 for Paik by Takehisa Kosugi(Fluxus Artist)



12:15 / 15 :15
Hapjeong Station (exit #2)

13:00 / 16:00
Across the overpass from Hannam the Hill(previously Dankuk University), Hannam-dong


10am – 8pm
Closed on every 2nd & 4th Monday of the month

SCREENING : Video Concert

Fri. 20 July – Mon. 20 August 2012
Seoul Square Media Canvas(previously Daewoo Building opposite Seoul Station)
On Seoul Square Media Canvas Paik’s videos will be screened from 8pm every night. Among the works are Hand and Face(1961), Video Synthesizer(1970), and Merce by Merce by Paik(1975-1976)

SYMPOSIUM : Gift of Nam June Paik 5
Man-Machine Duet for Life

Fri. 12 October 2012
Auditorium, Gyeonggi Provincial Museum
Glenn Wharton(Museum of Modern Art, New York)
Bernhard Serexhe(ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe)
Hanna Holling(University of Amsterdam)
William Kaizen(Northeastern University)
Su Ballard(University of Wollongong)
Moonryul Jung(Sogang University)
Chanwoong Lee(Ewha Womans University)

This symposium will be exploring Paik’s art in the framework of cybernetics. From multiple perspectives the speakers will discuss different issues regarding the artistic quality and life span of media art in relation to the development of scientific technology, the use of computers in creation and reception of artworks, and Paik’s vision for the ‘digilog’ life that combines digital and analog ways of living today.

PERFORMANCE : Nam June Paik’s Friends

6 pm, Fri. 20 July 2012
Memorabilia, Nam June Paik Art Center

In Memory of Nam June Paik by Byungki Hwang(Gayaguem Player, Composer) and others

July 20 for Paik by Takehisa Kosugi(Fluxus Artist)


Wed. 30 May 2012
Title I How can Nam June Paik Art Center and MuHKA be different from a ‘middle of the road’museum?
Speaker I Bart De Baere(Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp)

Fri. 20 July 2012
Title I Nam June Paik in Retrospective
Speaker I Takehisa Kosugi(Fluxus Artist)

Sat. 21 July 2012
Title I Mystique of being a technician for Nam June Paik
Speakers I Jochen Saueracker(Media Art Technician) / Jungsung Lee(President of Artmaster)

Wed. 22 August 2012
Title I When the future was now
Speaker I Wulf Herzogenrath(Former Director, Kunsthalle Bremen)


Tue. 24 July – Sat. 15 December 2012
Video Synthesizer which was restored in 2011 by Nam June Paik Art Center will be made public for the first time, and this special docent program will be a rare opportunity to look at the synthesizer’s operations at work firsthand.

Tue. 24 July – Fri. 17 August 2012 [elementary school students only]
Mon. 3 September – Fri. 14 December [elementary/middle/high school student]
The multifacered educational program related to the special exhibition will help children and youths create and appreciate works of art using a special kit of worksheets.

Tue. 7 August – Wed. 8 August 2012
Thu. 9 August – Fri. 10 August 2012
In the special program of summer vacation, elementary school students will make an eco-robot and stage its performance themselves, based on Paik’s ecological thinking.

1 September – 13 October 2012
20 October – 17 November 2012
24 November – 15 December 2012
This program is designed for the education of media literacy, which will help teenagers understand different types of media art through the prism of Paik art and his artistic philosophy.

Artists and Works
Nam June Paik, Marco Polo, 1993

Nam June Paik, Marco Polo, 1993

<The Rehabilitation of Genghis-Khan> and <Marco Polo> are the robots featured in Paik’s exhibition <Artist as Nomad: Electronic Superhighway – from Venice to Ulan Bator> at the German Pavilion of the 1993 Venice Biennale. <The Rehabilitation of Genghis-Khan> is on a bicycle, the back of which is loaded with machines for information transportation, and <Marco Polo> is riding a car filled with real flowers. At the Pavilion’s garden Paik set up the ‘Scythian Road,’ analogous to the Silk Road, where he positioned cross-cultural nomads connecting the East and the West in history, represented in his robot sculptures. This was to highlight the potentiality of cultural exchanges between different societies.
Catherine Ikam and Louis Fléri, Fragments of an Archetype, 1980/2012

Catherine Ikam and Louis Fléri, Fragments of an Archetype, 1980/2012

This work is an electronic version of Leonardo da Vinci’s <Vitruvian Man> where the Renaissance artist expressed the principles of order and harmony of the cosmos in the human body’s mathematical proportions. Calling attention to anthropocentrism, Ikam and Fléri fragmented the human body into sixteen parts to be represented in moving images, whose monitors are reassembled into a huge multi-television sculpture. To superimpose humans, screens and the globe over one another via technology could reveal the possibility of spatiotemporally distributed existence of human beings in the man-machine-nature relational network. This is none other than Paik’s cybernetic art in that Paik defines cybernetics as a science of relations, or relationship itself.
Olafur Eliasson, Your Uncertain Shadow(Growing), 2012

Olafur Eliasson, Your Uncertain Shadow(Growing), 2012

This work invites the audience to find his image divided into numerous ones. Using scientific methods and technology, Eliasson sublimates the elements of natural phenomena such as light, water and fog into artworks. By representing the simulated nature of his own construction in a specific space, he gives his audience a unique experience-the encounter of civilization and nature. In Eliasson’s works, the audience participation functions as an important motif. He shares common artistic goals with Paik as he strives toward the combination of nature and science, the interaction between artwork and audience, and the communication between art and society.
Antoni Muntadas, The File Room, 1994/2012

Antoni Muntadas, The File Room, 1994/2012

The File Room deals with ‘censorship’ in relation to authoritarian power in communication. This is a database of censorship cases in the fields of art and culture, from the ancient to the modern periods from all over the world. It has an open structure to which anyone could add a censorship case, and the still expanding database is maintained in cooperation with such organizations as National Coalition Against Censorship in the USA. The virtual database on the Internet is also transposed into a physical cell formed by piling up dozens of file cabinets. With the dark, closed and somewhat oppressive atmosphere, the viewer is invited to search the computer database and to contemplate the current meanings of two-way communication that Paik pursued.
Nam June Paik, Robot Series

Nam June Paik, Robot Series

Nam June Paik’s interest in robots continued through the mid 1980s, resulting in the robot series called video sculpture. These robots were not controlled by men like <Robot K-456>. Instead, the old fashioned television sets substituted human bodies, and TV monitors showed the videos. Paik revived in these robots diverse historical characters such as Hippocrates, Descartes, Schubert, and Danton. He also revived the actor and film director Charlie Chaplin and the comedian Bob Hope. Furthermore, he made robots of historical Korean people such as Queen Seondeok and Yule Gok. Nam June Paik’s robots reveal their identities in their names, and their bodies constituted of various forms of televisions express human characteristics.

Nam June Paik,  One Candle, 1989

Nam June Paik, One Candle, 1989

A video camera records a live image of a burning candle on a tripod, which is reproduced by projectors on the wall. The camera has three charge-coupled devices(CCD), detecting red, green and blue light each, and the old-fashioned projector also has three cathode-ray-tubes. Paik used these machines, which are supposed to create an image by converging separate rays of light into a single projection, in the way that deconstructs the image. Instead of merging the candle’s images separated by color inside the machines, Paik chose to project the separate images as layers directly onto the wall. The projected images formed by combinations of the layers on the wall are thus in various composites of color, size and shape. The candle’s image subtly waves since the flame is moved by the flow of air and the viewer’s movement around; it also keeps changing because the candle is being burnt away in the course of time. With equipments and cables deliberately exposed on the floor, in contrast with the swaying images on the wall, viewers can observe the whole space as a kind of closed circuit.
Nam June Paik, Happy Hoppi, 1995

Nam June Paik, Happy Hoppi, 1995

The title “Happy Hoppi” is composed by putting an adjective ‘happy’ before the name of a Native American tribe ‘Hopi’ – Paik seems to have added one more ‘p’ to ‘Hopi’ for a visual likeness to ‘happy’ – so that the two words rhyme with each other. The work presents a figure of the Native American made of twenty monitors, with his head and hands decorated by neon tubes and light bulbs as if wearing a headdress and holding a bow and arrow in both hands. On the screens, a robotic human being strolls in the space that looks like a 3D diagram, and what is also floating in graphic forms are cars, airplanes, satellites, telephones, computers and optical discs. The Hopi figure sits on a scooter whose front is painted like a shield or a mask. In Hopi mythology there were a god of sky on a flying shield and a messenger spirit connecting different worlds, who are often represented in masks. Combining the modern icons of transportation and communication, Paik borrows the cultural subjects of Native Americans who used to be ‘others’ in the Western-centric narratives of human history, thereby raising a question on the meanings of being truly global.
Nam June Paik, Easy Rider, 1995

Nam June Paik, Easy Rider, 1995

Easy Rider shares its title with a movie directed by Dennis Hopper where two rebellious young men ride motorcycles across the United States in search of an alternative way of life. Released in 1969, the controversial movie depicted the young people of the time that denied the existing social system, became members of the hippie movement and used psychedelic drugs. Nam June Paik wrote in his 1974 essay titled “Media Planning for the Postindustrial Society – The 21st Century is now only 26 years away” that the history of the 1960s witnesses the fact that the problem of communication that is the gap between generations can awaken the society and its value system. Easy Rider suggests a way of communication towards a new society through a broadband communication of an electronic highway. With a body that is consisted of 16 television monitors, a robot is riding on a motorcycle. On its body, license plates are attached as if they were medals that imply its journey. A dazzling decoration made of neon lights is attached to its head, bulbs with various colors on its arms. Laserdisc decorations with their rainbow of hues remind of the free and wild protagonists of the movie.
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