pixel Paiked out (part i)

In the most visual-cortexical-stimulating way possible (without resorting to chemical abuse)  …but I did chill to Zen for Film…

OK… when Vaneeesa suggested I ‘do a little blog post for I Rez on the Nam June Paik show’  last year,  I first hesitated… and thought well I should at least try… so here at last and possibly more timely to coincide with VB40 – Charlotte, Forever !

 Nam June Paik @ Liverpool Tate March ’11

Nam June Paik was more than a key participant in the revolution/development of Artist’s Aesthetics (i.e. modes of articulation between forms of action, production, perception and thought), in the late 50’s, throughout the 60’s and the decades that followed…

He, more than any, was always open to engaging with, and using new technology as it was developing, and was responsible for acknowledging ‘technological processing’ as a means of transmission/production, and generating works… but his place as a ‘conceptual artist’ and the ‘circuits’ he was involved in, must also be recognised.    From ’53-’56 he studied musicology, art history, and philosophy in Tokyo… From ’56-’57 he studied musicology, art history, and philosophy in Munich, and met Stockhausen… In ’58 he met Cage at Darmstadt… From 58-’63 he experimented at the Studio for Electronic Music Cologne… In ’61 he participated in Stockhausen’s Original in Cologne… In ’62 he got to know George Maciunas and participated in Fluxus concerts and manifestations…

From ’63-’64 things really kicked in… he had his first solo show, at Galerie Parnass Wuppertal: Exposition of Music – Electronic Television, In Japan he met Hideo Uchida and Shuya Abe and experimented with electro-magnets and colour television, he moved to New York, and met, and started collaborating with Charlotte Moorman….

There were almost 8 hours of video (15 works) – showing at Fact, (a kind of outpost  of the show, allowing more of Paik’s work to be seen/exhibited)… and for me the most interesting (apart from Global Groove (sadly) being shown in ‘daylight’ in the foyer), 9/23/69 Experiment with David Atwood [in collaberation with David Atwood, Fred Barzyk and Olivia Tappan] – Single -channel videotape, colour, sound 80 minutes.   This made on the date of the title, and with collaborators in the title, while Paik was artist-in-residence at WGBH, Boston.   Overtly ‘electronic’ in sound and Image, the work uses live moving image footage with pre-recorded material, managing to be both psychedelic and surreal, a beautiful sometimes stunning work, whose fragments have been used within other works.   As David Atwood notes ‘That day was a time to use the WGBH studio, the cameras, video switcher, etc. to create imagery that Paik had in mind for the future.  And more significantly, for Paik to assess the resulting costs and process of creating those images. The Paik/Abe synthesiser was created from the results of that day.’

The works at the Tate were much more diverse…

Concert Beuys Coyote III Nam Paik Duet ’84, total freedom of performance, hair raising intensity of non verbal expression… Paik on piano, Beuys on mic – visually re-mixed by Paik

Video Film Concert ’66-’72 (compiled ’92) (all Paik + Yalkut), containing Video Tape Study No3, Beatles Electroniques (Original soundtrack: “Four Loops” by Kenneth Werner), Electric Moon No2, Electronic Fables, Waiting for Commercials and Electronic Yoga… within some of these, the sound is just as ‘processed’ as the images…

Beatles Electronique

Internet Dream ’94, here with 52 (television) screens Paik’s cutting and editing of images becomes almost frenzied, with looped multi-series, rapidly cut moving images, (2/3 per second in some cases), so these images ‘collapse into time’… time becomes a ‘black hole’ which attracts and consumes the images, again and again and again…

There are many other large works in this show, but many of the early works are relatively ascetic, but no less powerful for that, Hand and Face ’61, Zen for TV ’63, Rembrandt  TV ’63, and of course, documentation of Exposition of Music – Electronic Television. This last event above, and Paik’s response to it, (in a part of) an essay written in the Fluxus Newspaper No.4 , Fluxus cc fiVeThReE ’64‘Afterlude to the Exposition of Music – Electronic Television,  I believe show, just how important Paiks study of music, and his position within the circuit of contemporary musical thought at Munich, Darmstadt and Cologne, (and also show) just how far ahead of his time Paik was, in being open to ‘new electronic media of the visual’…

the perpetual Unsatisfaction is the perpetual evolution. It is the main merit of experimental TV. (NJP). The frustration remains as the frustration. There is NO catharsis. Don’t expect from my TV: Shock., Expressionism., Romanticism., Climax., Surprise., etc… for which my previous compositions had the honour to be praised. In the Gallery Parnass, one bull’s head made more sensation than 13 TV sets. Maybe 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.’ (Fluxus Codex pp436)

…TV Garden ’74-’77… The Thinker ’76-’78… Buddha ’61… TV Buddha ’97… Uncle/Aunt ’86… I admire M0NKEY ’64…   and so it goes… Fluxus Island in Décollage Ocean ’62-’63… Video Fish ’79-’92…TV Chair ’68… so just scratching the surface here…   too many to cover on one blog… but if you have only half a chance to see the show before it ends at Liverpool, see it, make the effort, you will never regret it…   see this show, see everything that Nam June Paik ever produced…

Postscript to part i – from the catalogue – Interview with Stephen von Wiesse ’95

Q How did you learn video

A I invented it. I finished with electronic music. Therefor I had to do something. I was neither a painter nor a sculptor, neither a good composer.

Q So you had to invent something

A Yes, there was no competition at that time.

Q Do you think video art can be developed in the future

A Yes, with the Internet, very much.


Headshot of iRez Guest Author Pixel Reanimator

Pixel Reanimator

Pixel Reanimator is a virtual performance artist. He studies and writes about art & ideas.

Flickr / Pixel Reanimator

I am particularly interested in how the Lacanian Triumvirate applies to ‘life’ in Second Life and will be tackling creative and documentary projects there and in Virtual Worlds. From 1/1/10 I see myself as a Resident, (in Second Life) not a tourist. I believe Second Life is a medium – and what an event/phenomenon – to be able to live, work and explore in one’s chosen medium !

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