Nam June Paik - Biography

"I never look at my videos" said the renowned "father of video art", Nam June Paik. A native of Seoul, Korea, whose artistic career began in Germany, he propelled the flood of electronic images to new speeds and created video art that treads a fine line between TV-terror and media magic.

"Television has attacked us for our entire lives. Now we fight back."

The son of a textile and steel manufacturer was trained as composer. While living in New York, he arranged experimental music performances that involved erotic interludes with cellist Charlotte Moorman, shocking the classical concert business. As a Fluxus artist, he developed early forms of interactive art by subjecting television images to magnetic manipulation by the viewer. Already in 1973, Paik claimed: "Television has attacked us for our entire lives. Now we fight back". As a video artist, he discovered the thrill of rapid, rhythmic images, among other possibilities of electronic art, long before the video clip or pixel was considered legitimate competition for the brush.


By the mid-1960s, Paik had built his first robot, the K 456. In the 80's it was followed by a colorful robot family whose bodies were entirely composed of monitors. As a video-sculptor, he managed to consign the evasive, fleeting images back to a material origin and thereby founded a new art discipline. He called his large-scale, high-tech video screens "monitor wallpaper". As a thinker, Paik is familiar with both eastern and western teachings. His contemplative closed-circuit installations, which are visual tautologies, juxtapose silence and emptiness with a torrent of noisy and frenetically moving images. They are, in short, works adhering to the principle of Yin and Yang, initiating a confrontation between Zen Buddhism and the excesses of modern media.

Nam June Paik - art exhibitions

Nam June Paik represented Germany at the 1993 Venice Biennale, and died at the age of 73. After his death, a museum named after the video- and media-art pioneer was opened in South Korea: the Nam June Paik Art Center.


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"Buddha game", 1991

Nam June Paik: Buddha game, 1991

Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik