Nam June Paik was the first video artist who experimented with electronic media and made a profound impact on the art of video and television. He coined the phrase "Information Superhighway" in 1974, and has been called the "father of video art."
He was born Nam June Paik on July 20, 1932 in Seoul, South Korea. He was the fifth son of a textile manufacturer. Young Paik was fond of music and art, he studied piano in Seoul. In 1950 the Paik family fled from the Korean War, first to Hong Kong, and later to Japan. There he graduated from the University of Tokyo (1956), where he studied art, music history, and philosophy, and wrote a thesis on Arnold Schönberg.
Paik continued his music studies in Germany. He collaborated with Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage, who inspired his transition into electronic arts. In 1959 he performed his "Hommage a John Cage" with pre-recorded music and motorcycle, with participation of people and live chicken. Paik also carried out experimental work with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the Electronic Music Studio of the West Deutscher Rundfunk (WDR) in Cologne, Germany. Paik was a friend of Yoko Ono from 1963, when they first met at her home in Tokyo. At that time, he took part in the Post Neo-Dada art movement "Fluxus" with George Maciunas, Yoko Ono and other avant-garde artists.
Paik's modified TV monitors were first presented in 1963, in his solo show titled "Exposition of Music-Electronic Television" in Germany. In 1964 he moved to New York and continued experiments with music and video performance. His ground-braking interactive video-works began in 1965, when he started experiments with his video camera, with electromagnets, and with color TV. At that time Paik also collaborated with engineer Shuya Abe in Japan. He continued as artist-in-residence at WGBH public broadcaster in Boston, USA. There he constructed the first video synthesizer together with Shuya Abe in 1969. A large magnet outside the TV monitor was used to alter the image and create an abstract picture. He produced random patterns of light by causing distortions to the electron emission spot on a phosphorous screen. Paik later used multiple TV monitors and robots, made of TV sets, metal and electronic components. In his TV project " TV Buddha" a statue of a sitting Buddha is facing it's own image on a closed-circuit TV.
Paik was the founding father of Video Art. He advanced our perceptions of the temporal image and it's role in contemporary art. His largest project was "Wrap around the World" designed for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. There he mounted a giant media-tower shaped like a birthday cake, called "The More the Better" and used 1003 TV monitors for a non-stop presentation of Video-Art images and performances by Korean drummers and international artists: Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, Merce Cunningham, Sergei Kuryokhin among others.
Nam June Paik is credited for creating the term "Electronic Super Highway" in his 1974 report, commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation. In the 90s, when "information superhighway" became a hot phrase, he commented, "Bill Clinton stole my idea." In 1996 Paik became disabled after having a stroke, and was in a wheelchair for ten years in his later life, but his energy and intellect were as productive as ever. He was a highly creative member of society, a provocative experimental artist and thinker whose ideas and performances made a profound effect on the art of video and television. His works are now preserved in museum collections across the world. Nam June Paik died on January 29, 2006 in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.
"He made the World Family wiser", said his friend Yoko Ono. A space rock was named "Paik" in his honor.
|Shigeko Kubota||(? - 29 January 2006) (his death)|
Used a wheelchair since 1996 when he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side but he remained active creatively until 2005 when his condition worsened.
In a 1960 piano performance in Cologne he played Chopin, threw himself on the piano and rushed into the audience attacking Composer John Cage and pianist David Tudor by cutting their clothes with scissors and dumping shampoo on their heads.
By the 1950's Paik's performances were more likely to involve whistles or egg beaters than conventional instruments.
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