Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20

Nam June Paik was a Korean-born artist who began using television as his media in the early 60's. Not as a mass media, though- as the world's first recognized video artist, he used televisions as his canvas and paints.

This artwork is called 'Something Pacific'. The outdoor version, on the University of California San Diego campus, was his first public installation.

Growing up, Paik went to Germany to study at a music conservatory. While there, he befriended John Cage and several artists in the Fluxus movement, which wanted to destroy the definitions of what makes art in the name of returning art to everyday experience. He started experimenting with televisions.

His TV sculptures and art pieces (particularly his collaborations with cellist Charlotte Moorman) hit a nerve in the art world. His work also predates MTV and the post-millenial media saturated way of life we know today. Although he died in 2006, several of his works are on permanent display around the world, including 'Electronic Superhighway' in the Smithsonian's collection. (Incidentally, he coined the phrase 'electronic superhighway' in 1974, to describe what we call 'information superhighway' today.) Whether he was using TV to build giant robots or build bras, Paik used television to show us ourselves and what we could be.

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