Final project - Watching TV all the time
30 second street music
Superstar Smackdown - Nam June Paik

Monday, April 04, 2005

5 Questions about Nam June Park

5 Questions about the artist

1. Paik has explored many types of new technologies in his works. How does Paik see the relationship between humans, the media and technology?

“MTV's videoclips have already shown that there is great intimacy between sound and image. People are used to these electronic collages. If you compare them to the underground films of the '60s, you will find lots of common traits, such as abrupt cuts and unusual angles, among other characteristics. MTV is not the only approach to the issue of sound-and-image, but it is an interesting solution, which has contributed a lot to the development of a "visual music", and to video art. I believe that Laurie Anderson's work, for example, is very important, because she bridges the gap between "low culture" and "high culture". The standards of "low art" are being raised dramatically. When Elvis Presley appeared in the '50s, fine artists did not appreciate his work. But when the Beatles appeared, in the '60s, fine artists admired and respected them.

I see a major change under way. As opposed to Presley, who was a driver, musicians like David Bowie or David Byrne are educated, well-informed people, with solid backgrounds. They admire Marcel Duchamp and other important artists. A visual artist can talk to them at the same intellectual level because they were visual artists before turning professional musicians. But there is no reason for them to create high art, anyway. There are always artists focused on this kind of work, like Ray Johnson and the members of Fluxus, among so many others.”

- Nam June Paik, Eduardo Kac interview

2. Paik has a strong musical background and he produced several telecommunication events. How does Paik related music and video?

The same answer about question of artist background, question No.2

3. Conversely the media become already become a monopolistic industry, Paik made the several artworks, such as "Magnet TV " that audience directly distort and control the media. How to different video art and television? How audience can take and control television?

Along with Participation TV (1963), Magnet TV (1965) was an attempt by pioneering video artist Nam June Paik to "gain audience participation through his TV experiments" (Decker-Phillips, 1998: 63).

In this piece, Paik made use of powerful, externally mounted electromagnets to manipulate electrons within the television set. In doing so, the process produced a continuously morphing display of abstract lines and shapes on the television screen.

This work was created during an era where television was only just beginning to become a fixture of day to day life, and was easily accepted by audiences and art critics alike. It referenced "the viewer's own familiar and private association with the medium, draws him in, thus implicating an involving him in Paik's recontextualization of art, technology and pop-culture" (Nankivell, 2004).

Paik further reinforced this reading stating that "Magnet TV was his first successful work because art critics could understand it by merely looking at it" (Decker-Phillips, 1998: 64).

4. Why does Paik choose video to express artistic concept? What is the meaning of "Video realism"? Does video allow people to possess and produce the media?

Conceptualism and minimalism together proclaimed the death of art in early 1970. The present was ridiculed; people were rambling on the death of realism. At the other end of the line, Nam June Paik had already been toying with his television sets for ten years. He was nicknamed the “George Washington of art-video” by experimental artist Frank Gillette.

In1960's, he used to break violins during openings and compose music scores for bathtubs. He used to say in a prophetic way: “The cathode-ray tube will replace the canvas, video art is to painting what Monet was to Ingres.”

Nam June Paik created the first images of the electronic age. He distorted Nixon’s face. A magnet above the cathode-ray tube was enough to make the television universe go astray. The Korean was mocking and did not repeat himself, he burnt everything that was moving: technology, Fluxus happenings, hippie movement and rock-and-roll, with a bit of Zen irony. It seemed easy, within reach of any television tinkerer. It was a rush. The monitors started to gurgle their soporific messages like electronic rubbish over the whole planet art.

5. Paik has reflected humanism and Eastern ideas through "TV Garden" and "TV Buddha". Is it possible "humanizing technology"? How does Paik depict that people live with new technology?

TV Garden, a sculpture piece from 1974, consists of dozens of video monitors situated amid many live plants. The TV's have a surrealistic combination of various images and sounds. Other sculptures created from installations of TV monitors include live fish swimming in tanks and in the old TV's themselves - floating serenely amid cacophonous noise and images of Rudolph Nureyev and jumbo jets. Some sculptures represented various animals, constructed from piles of television and video monitors; others contained references to eastern culture, such as Buddha, and references to influential scientists Galileo, Newton and Darwin.

TV Buddha is an enigmatic work by prolific video artist Nam June Paik which consists of a Buddha statue gazing at his own image on a video screen, being projected there by a closed circuit video camera.

According to Hanzal, "The historical/religious significance of the Buddha figure makes it an apt metaphor for contemplation, yet there seems to be conflict between the desires to look away from and into the self" (2001).

As such, Paik has managed to create an infinite loop. It becomes more interesting to the viewer as he/she realises that while the discourse of technology can be distanced from the conflict taking place, i.e. that the struggle is ultimately between the self and perception of the self, it also can be said to be a catalyst for the interaction which forces the interaction between the two.


Post a Comment

<< Home