Nam June Paik is one of the pioneers of video and television as art forms. Born in 1932 in Korea and trained as a pianist and composer, Paik was first known in the late 1950s and early '60s for his often outrageous performances with altered instruments. Early sources of inspiration came from his association with Fluxus, an international group that challenged traditional notions about art, and from his collaborations with other avant-garde artists such as John Cage. Today, Paik is widely recognized for his multi-media installations, often using multiple television screens ablaze with colors and patterns. Yet what remains among Paik's most revolutionary acts is his use of an early portable Sony video camera in 1965 to make art for the single television monitor. This exhibition features some of Paik's most important single-channel videos over the last 30 years. In addition, there will be a film screening of Lars Movin's The Misfits--Thirty Years of Fluxus. Program One (114 minutes): Video Film Concert, 1966-1972 and 1992, 27 minutes, 20 seconds.
These five short films represent the evolution of Paik's work in video, performance and installation. They are among the first explorations of mass media appropriation, deconstruction and manipulation as cultural and political critiques. Made with Jud Yalkut. Global Groove, 1973, 28 minutes, 30 seconds.
In this seminal work, Paik created a frenetic electronic collage of multicultural elements, artworld figures, pop iconography and commercials. A Tribute to John Cage, 1973, re-edited 1976, 29 minutes, 2 seconds.
Paik pays homage to the avant-garde composer with a pastiche of Cage's performances, anecdotes and interviews. Cage embraced chance, randomness and the democratization of sounds in his art and music. This tribute includes the famous piece 4'33" (of complete silence). Nam June Paik: Edited for Television, 1975, 28 minutes, 14 seconds.
Featuring a Paik interview by art critic Calvin Tompkins and ironic commentary by host Russell Connor, Paik addresses his art and philosophy in this documentary produced for a public television station in New York. Program Two (115 minutes): Guadalcanal Requiem, 1977, re-edited 1979, 28 minutes, 33 seconds.
Juxtaposing symbolic gestures and performances with archival footage, Paik confronts the history and mythology of one of World War II's most devastating battles. One of Paik's most overtly political statements, this performance/documentary collage asserts that global conflict arises as a result of cultural miscommunication. Merce by Merce by Paik, total program: 1978, 28 minutes, 45 seconds.
(Part One: Blue Studio: Five Segments, 1975-76, 15 minutes, 38 seconds. By Merce Cunningham and Charles Atlas.)
(Part Two: Merce and Marcel, 1978, 13 minutes, 5 seconds. Made with Shigeko Kubota.)
Paik and his collaborators question art, life and time through video in this two-part tribute to two influential avant-garde figures: choreographer Merce Cunningham and artist Marcel Duchamp. Living with the Living Theatre, 1989, 28 minutes, 30 seconds.
Using interviews and animated sequences, Paik pays tribute to Judith Malina and Julien Beck, founders of the Living Theatre, an avant-garde performance group known as much for their nomadic and utopian communal life-style as for their theater work that sought to transcend the traditional separation between the audience and the performer. "Topless Cellist" Charlotte Moorman, 1995, 29 minutes.
Anecdotes from various performances fill this tribute to Paik's longtime collaborator, classically-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman who died in 1991. Released this spring, this is Paik's first new video since 1989. Made with Howard Weinberg.
John B. Ravenal