czwartek, 6 sierpnia 2015

Nam June Paik Visual communication from a video art point of view

From the very beginning his purpose was not only acceptation of the media progress and technical development, which his works are devoted to, but also propelling them with his own fantasies and by crossing the apparently firm borders between specific disciplines, which separate the serious art from the entertaining one.
(In other words – The Art from the art for the public.) - Wulf Herzogenrath1

Nam June Paik is known as the one of the most important people in the history of Video-art. From the beginning he was connected with electronic music. He studied aesthetics, history, philosophy, theory of music. In the 60s he was involved in Fluxus movement. He was dealing with the art concept, promoting what is happening NOW. He has never hiding banality and lack of seriousness2. In practise he was using performance, happening, and artistic events such as concerts. The distance from the traditional frame of arts and big inspiration from Dada movement was very characteristic about this movement. Nam Jun Paik started to collaborate with this movement. The conclusions were his big achievements in sector of Video-Art.
An artist is a pioneer in full meaning of this word. For example, he constructed a robot K 456 and first video installations. Paik started to use television in his art projects, which started to be inherent element of his work. An Artist was trying to show its communication skills-possibilities in the most open and wide way.
His first exhibition Exposition of Music - Electronic Television (1963), and presentation of changed TV sets, is now the part of the history as a moment of birth for media arts.

In 1964 Paik went to New York. He started to work with Charlotte Moorman-cello player. They started to create the series of performances, which included video, interaction and music. In

this period of time Paik very intensively started to be interested in technological opportunities which gives television and video. He was cooperating with Shuya Abe, they made electronic picture-screen synthesizer, in New York´s laboratory of TV station WNET .

His first retrospective exhibition was made in Kunstverein. In the next years Paik had many other very important artistic events (with Joseph Beuys and Douglas Davies he made on
document 6 (1977) TV transmission, which was first artistic project using satellite connection.
In 1978 Paik started to be the first teacher of Video –Art in Europe- Düsseldorf Academy, in 1987 member of Art Academy in Berlin. Exhibition Artist as Nomad, was made with Hans Haack. They get golden medal in 1993, in Venice Art Bienalle. An artist got then many prices: Guggenheim Museum, Rockefeller Foundation, United States Film Institute, or UNESCO- Picasso Medal. His individual exhibitions took place in the most important galleries and museums in the whole world. His works-projects are now decoration of many world wide collections.
In 1999 American artistic magazine "ARTnews", found him as one from twenty five the most influential artist from this century. Nam June Paik died on 29th of January 2006 in Miami.

Nam June Paik had visionary views on culture and society. Even today it is a source of inspiration for artist from different generations. In 1974 he implemented the term: Electronic Superhighway had very big influence for showing the needs for the new era.

The most important projects of Nam June Paik are: Zen for TV (1963), TV Bra for Living Sculpture (1969), Global Groove (1973), Video Buddha (1974), Moon is The Oldest TV (1976), Guadalcanal Requiem (1976), TV Aquarium (1977), Merce by Merce (1979), Tricolor Video (1982), Good Morning, Mr Orwell (1984), Beuys/Voice (1987).

Video Buddha is a simple project. A Buddha figure, which the camera lenses are pointed to, was located in front of a TV. The camera was directly registering the image and the spectator could see stable frame-shot with the figure. Obviously this is not a coincidence that the Indian prophet appeared in the camera´s spotlight. Thanks to John Cage (musician of the American avant-garde) Nam June Paik got to know and started to be fascinated in the Zen philosophy. In the opinion of Urszula Usakowska- Wolff this project should make the spectator realize that looking is not the same as seeing3.

                                                                TV Buddha


Nam Jun Paik was building various constructions from TV sets. He was building in the instruments; he was putting them in natural contests like in for example project: TV Garden, where the TV sets were in the garden among plants. He was giving structures concrete shapes, by making robots or animals from TV sets – Turtle was build from 166 colourful screens. Urszula Usakowska- Wolff, wrote that we can see in Paik’s art full evolution, author-media-audience evolution. At the beginning TV medium was just the single receiver. It was easy at the beginning to control the receiver. But after a while it began to be a mass of colourful pictures, thanks which it is possible to control the mass receiver.


                               Video –TV garden

Nam June Paik loved music and it is clearly visible that he was very often using music motives in his projects. A lot of his works are connected to the idea of the real music. They are connected to the life concerts, very often played by Paik himself.
. For example among the installations we can see a piano build in to TV sets(Video Piano), or performance in which a woman is holding few screens that are connected to each other- they all together looked like cello (TV Cello).

                                                                    Video Piano

The artist also put motives of sexuality in his work. It is very visible in project TV Bra for Living Sculpture, in which a woman with cello has two TV screens attached to her breast.
Nam June Paik thought that any culture cannot be captured into the concrete collection of symbols and signs. Each culture is a mix of other cultures, often a collection of inconsistent elements. Syncretism is very characteristic feature that appeared in Paik´s work, which is very often a supersede feature. He was frequently connecting elements from different worlds. For example: Video Buddha it is a compilation of a Buddhist religious culture, very often represent by the Buddha figure within the symbol of consumptive culture which is television. The Korean connects techniques with floral elements (TV Garden), animalistic (Turtle) music elements (TV Cello; TV Bra for Living Sculpture or Video Piano).

                                                     TV Bra for Living Sculpture

This video-art pioneer did not put itself into a frame of significant topics. He created also projects full of abstracts and symbols.
Nam Jun Paik was very often creating compilations very similar to already know elements-parts of the world-daily world such as animals, plants-floral elements or music instruments or other things-subjects. In his work we can find also different projects, specific and characteristic-they are unusual. The most abstractive is Zen for head, in which artist was painting on the cardboard using his own head soaked in ink.
The author was interested in possibilities which give us light (projects in which he was using laser light).

                                         Zen for head

Laser is both delicate and pompous. It gives men a sensational feeling. Since I am apoplectic I became kind of religious. I need something that relieves my life from a daily poverty. Paik told "art” magazine (Nr 12/1999).

Laser projects are now in Museum Guggenheim in New York. In TV Clock 1989, Paik put 18 TV sets in a semicircle; through each he let the stream of light, so that each of them showed position of a clock hand. Pyramid II, from Three elements (1997- 2000) collection, is a cone, a prism through which he directed laser streams-, contracting in abstractive construction within light lines inside of the prism. He made very similar experiments using ball and cube figures.

                                                               Three elements

Jacob's Ladder, is a very interesting assembly in Museum Guggenheim. Paik put TV sets on the museum’s walls; he created an installation made from mirrors that reached from the floor to the ceiling of the museum, which he assembled on the whole length of the building from both sides of the construction. Between the mirrors he created a, so called, waterfall. Afterwards Paik directed a green stream of the laser light on the mirrors, which were reflecting from mirrors below was going through whole height (Museum height), very smoothly going through the waterfall.

                                                                 Jacob's Ladder

One project that is extremely important in author´s biography is Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S. project. It is an installation build from 313 screens surrounded by colourful neons -which were creating lines-borders-shape of United States of America. It is possible to interpret this work in the frame that: although the technical and technological development borders of the country are still untouched, they are the same.

In opinion of many people Nam Jun Paik through the idea-concept: Electronic Superhighway was the first who predicted today’s: World Wide Web.

If you create a highway people invent cars. (...) If you create an electronic highway something has to happen. 4

If you give the human being a field of possibilities, unfiled area that means that he will for sure fill it in. The question is how many highways will appear?

                                                     Electronic Superhighway

Nam Jun Paik was an artist without who today´s contemporary art would be much poorer. Today this character-person is an object of discourse in Arts. In many areas and specifically in Video-Art he was a pioneer and a visionary. He was fascinated by the development, what was going on in technology and what will appear in this field in the future. Paik was trying to explore comunication and visual possibilities of twentieth century achievements. His experiments were crossing the line between the mass and elite arts. They were showing how we can use technology, thanks to which we could see what technology can do with people. And we were then just at the very beginning of the interactive arts progress and development.

Autor tekstu:
K. Wójcik dla www.kreatywnepiny.pl

Treść tekstu jest chroniona prawami autorskimi, jakiekolwiek wykorzystanie tekstu w celach nieznanych autorce będą skutkować wezwaniem do zapłaty oraz przesłaniem informacji do najbliższego sądu rejonowego w celu uzyskania odszkodowania;
Czytelniku: szanuj cudzą pracę i przestrzegaj praw autorskich!

Jesli chcesz wykorzystać ten bądź inny tekst znajdujący się na stronie, użyj zakładki kontakt i prześlij swoją propozycję dla autora.


  1. Cytat ze strony rhizome.org, wywiad Tilmana Baumgartela z N. J. Paikiem I'am a communication artist
  2. Usakowska- Wolff, U., Fluxus/Video/Lux, Kwartalnik ORO Nr 3 (40) 2000
  3. De Meredieu, F., Digital and video art, wyd. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh 2005

  1. Cytat z: Usakowska- Wolff, U., Fluxus/Video/Lux, Kwartalnik ORO Nr 3 (40) 2000
  2. Fotofrafie z google.com

1Cytat z: Usakowska- Wolff, U., Fluxus/Video/Lux, Kwartalnik ORO Nr 3 (40) 2000
2De Meredieu, F., Digital and video art, wyd. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh 2005
3Usakowska- Wolff, U., Fluxus/Video/Lux, Kwartalnik ORO Nr 3 (40) 2000

4 rhizome.org, interview by Tilmana Baumgartela with N. J. Paikiem I'am a communication artist