Nam June Paik - Visual artist and video art

Nam June Paik ( July 20, 1932 – January 29, 2006) was a Korean American artist. He worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the founder of video art. He is credited with an early usage (1974) of the term "electronic super highway" in application to telecommunications.Born in Seoul in 1932, the youngest of five siblings, Paik had two older brothers and two older sisters. His father (who in 2002 was revealed to be a Chinilpa) owned a major textile manufacturing firm. As he was growing up, he was trained as a classical pianist. In 1950, Paik and his family had to flee from their home in Korea, during the Korean War. His family first fled to Hong Kong, but later moved to Japan. Six years later he graduated from the University of Tokyo where he wrote a thesis on the composer Arnold Schoenberg.
Paik then moved to West Germany to study music history with composer Thrasybulos Georgiades at Munich University. While studying in Germany, Paik met the composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage and the conceptual artists George Maciunas, Joseph Beuys and Wolf Vostell and was from 1962 on, a member of Fluxus.





In 1964, Paik moved to New York, and began working with classical cellist Charlotte Moorman, to combine his video, music, and performance. In the work TV Cello, the pair stacked televisions on top of one another, so that they formed the shape of an actual cello. When Moorman drew her bow across the "cello," images of her and other cellists playing appeared on the screens.
In 1965, Sony introduced the Portapak. With this, Paik could both move and record things, for it was the first portable video and audio recorder. From there, Paik became an international celebrity, known for his creative and entertaining works.
In a notorious 1967 incident, Moorman was arrested for going topless while performing in Paik’s Opera Sextronique. Two years later, in 1969, they performed TV Bra for Living Sculpture, in which Moorman wore a bra with small TV screens over her breasts. Throughout this period it was his goal to bring music up to speed with art and literature, and make sex an acceptable theme. One of his Fluxus concept works ("Playable Pieces") instructs the performer to "climb inside the vagina of a live female whale." Of the "Playable Pieces," the only one actually to have been performed was by Fluxus composer Joseph Byrd ("Cut your left forearm a distance of ten centimeters.") in 1964 at UCLA's New Music Workshop.
 




In 1971, he made a cello out of three television sets stacked up on top of each other and some cello strings. He got a famous cellist to play the "cello" as well.
In 1974 Nam June Paik used the term "super highway" in application to telecommunications, which gave rise to the opinion that he may have been the author of the phrase "Information Superhighway". In fact, in his 1974 proposal "Media Planning for the Postindustrial Society – The 21st Century is now only 26 years away" to the Rockefeller Foundation he used a slightly different phrase, "electronic super highway":"The building of new electronic super highways will become an even huger enterprise. Assuming we connect New York with Los Angeles by means of an electronic telecommunication network that operates in strong transmission ranges, as well as with continental satellites, wave guides, bundled coaxial cable, and later also via laser beam fiber optics: the expenditure would be about the same as for a Moon landing, except that the benefits in term of by-products would be greater."






Also in the 1970s, Paik imagined a global community of viewers for what he called a Video Common Market which would disseminate videos freely. In 1978, Paik collaborated with Dimitri Devyatkin to produce a light hearted comparison of life in two major cities, Media Shuttle: New York-Moscow on WNET.The video is held in museum collections around the world.
In another work, Something Pacific (1986), a statue of a sitting Buddha faces its image on a closed circuit television. (The piece is part of the Stuart Collection of public art at the University of California, San Diego.) Another piece, Positive Egg, displays a white egg on a black background. In a series of video monitors, increasing in size, the image on the screen becomes larger and larger, until the egg itself becomes an abstract, unrecognizable shape. In Video Fish, from 1975, a series of aquariums arranged in a horizontal line contain live fish swimming in front of an equal number of monitors which show video images of other fish.
Paik’s 1995 piece Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, on permanent display at the Lincoln Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is a stunning example of his cultural criticism. With this piece, Paik offers up his commentary about an American culture obsessed with television, the moving image, and bright shiny things.Paik was known for making robots out of television sets. These were constructed using pieces of wire and metal, but later Paik used parts from radio and television sets





During the New Year's Day celebration on January 1, 1984, he aired Good Morning, Mr. Orwell, a live link between WNET New York, Centre Pompidou Paris, and South Korea. With the participation of John Cage, Salvador Dalí, Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Merce Cunningham, Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, George Plimpton, and other artists, Paik showed that George Orwell's Big Brother had not arrived. In 1986, Paik created the work Bye Bye Kipling, a tape that mixed live events from Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan; and New York, USA. Two years later, in 1988 he further showed his love for his home with a piece called The more the better, a giant tower made entirely of 1003 monitors for the Olympic Games being held at Seoul. Despite his stroke, in 2000, he created a millennium satellite broadcast entitled Tiger is Alive and in 2004 designed the installation of monitors and video projections Global Groove 2004 for the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin.Wikipedia



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