is just fraud. You just have to do something nobody else has done before."
~Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik created art in many ways. He was a composer, performer,
and visual artist, widely regarded as the inventor of video art. He was born in Seoul, Korea to a textile manufacturer. During
the Korean War in 1950, he and his family were forced to move, making their way to Japan. When he got was ready to attend
the University of Tokyo he double majored in music history and esthetics of art. In 1956 he moved to Germany, where he
continued his studies to become a music composer at Munich University and later at the University of Freiburg, Germany.
During the early years
after college, Paik worked with John Cage and the neo-Dada group known as the Fluxus group. The
Fluxusists were known for blending art styles. Joseph Beuys and Yoko Ono were other artist who, like Paik, experimented with combining visual art,
music, poetry, and film. This group of artists were the unprofessional and untraditional professionals. Paik was interested
in the deconstruction of art and making visual music.
Paik had a huge impact on modern technology. In the 60’s
he began to modify TVs and experimented with video cameras in order to develop some new ideas. While living in Japan, he began
focusing on TV electromagnets in 1963. The following year, he moved to the United States to intern at a public broadcasting
station (WGBH) in Boston. There, working along side Shuya Abe, the pair developed the first video synthesizer (Piak-Abe Video
Synthesizer). This synthesizer generated colorful patterns and shapes without a camera input and using only magnets to interrupt
the photon beams used to transmit TV signals through the air. This kind of thing is used today to add subtitles or maps at
a TV station. Paik is given credit for inventing video art in the 1970's. His videos show a strong interest in perception
and world information, history, and religion. One of the best examples of this work is his TV Buddha. This work shows a Buddha statue staring at his own image on a video monitor. The work makes use of a closed-circuit
video camera that feeds directly into the monitor. Buddha is a prime Asian religious and historical figure that transcends
the Asian culture as a symbol of contemplation. Most can visualize a Buddha meditating, however, most also have a problem
looking at themselves internally and reflecting upon their acts. Paik illustrates Buddha’s self study that is constant
and unwavering (well, as long as the power is on anyway).
1974. Installation of bronze sculpture on closed
When Paik infused music with video it was a totally
new concept. He called these works "moving painting with sound." He is also given credit for coming
up with the term “information superhighway."
Paik will be long remembered for his innovations and
artworks. Though he suffered a stroke in 1996, he continued to work on his art, both mentally and physically. He quietly died
at his home in Miami, Florida of natural causes in 2006, at the age of seventy-three.