November 2, 2014
Nam June Paik embraces technology so fully that many of his artworks are as technologically innovative as they are avant-garde.
While he is often considered to be one of the originators of video art (he bought an early video tape recorder in 1965 with a Rockefeller Grant), he was also a TV artist — he didn’t just use video as a medium but he incorporated TV sets into his sculptures and performances, as well as working on video events for broadcast TV.
There is a humor to his art which I enjoy. One of my favorites is the Golden Buddha from Paik’s TV Buddha series, where he poses a traditional Buddha sculpture staring at a live video feed of themselves. In a similar vein, Reclining Buddha juxtaposes a buddha sculpture with a video of a nude woman in the same pose, split between two monitors.
Naim June Paik’s TV glasses are sometimes considered a precursor to Google Glass, but they seem to be the opposite — rather than providing information to the user, the TV Glasses are small video monitors which face outward, displaying images to people looking at the wearer. The Paik/Abe Synthesizer he created allowed for manipulation of video imagery in real-time, without a major tv studio, allowing artists to use video as a canvas, and also inventing a visual language the would blossom in music videos of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Exhibit website: http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/nam-june-paik
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