Nam June Paik

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Paik emphasized that it is the artist's role in society to re-envision technology in the service of culture. His ideas resonate now, more than ever, as we conduct much of our lives virtually, partaking in Paik's vision of a "global village."

“Paik's art recycles his images and appropriates the world's cultures, not to distance us from the world around us, but in order to reengage us with the communities we inhabit.”- John G. Hanhardt, 1993

Here, the gallery presents three of the artist's iconic sculptures, Main Channel MatrixMusic is Not Sound, and TV Service Robot.

Main Channel Matrix is a monumental videowall composed of 65 television sets that play Paik’s seminal 1973 video broadcast "Global Groove" on continuous, splicing loop. Paik reimagined the commercial videowall for electric, expressive purpose, deploying a pastiche of sound and image to create a moving mural, composed of hundreds of discrete images, that subverted the standard language of television. This work has been shown in important exhibitions at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Musée d’Art Contemporain Lyon, and Guggenheim New York, among others.

Nam June Paik
Main Channel Matrix, 1993-1996
2 video channels with audio, 1 matrix computer, 65 monitors
28 min. loop, 131 7/8 x 131 7/8 x 26 in. 335.0 x 335.0 x 66.0 cm

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Music is Not Sound, 1998, is a mixed media sculpture that appropriates the coin-operated twin TV chairs ubiquitous throughout American airports in the 1980s. A single-channel video playing across both monitors depicts fragments of piano playing and musical instruments and clips of video all subjected to Paik’s signature onslaught of disruptive editing. Paik made six sets of TV chairs in total, titling and constructing each work around a specific artistic discipline: Music is Not SoundLiterature is Not Book, Dance is Not JumpingPainting is Not ArtDrama is not Theatre, and Star is Not Actor.

Nam June Paik
Music is Not Sound, 1988
Video system, chairs, statuettes, other objects
46 x 41 x 72 in 116.8 x 104.1 x 182.9 cm

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The intimately scaled TV SERVICE ROBOT, 1997, is a work which references both the studio environment in which Paik created his art and the pace at which technology renders itself obsolete. The glowing clock of the robot’s torso was salvaged from a TV repair shop in New York, and the body of the work is studded with the old radio and TV tubes which littered the studio floor. It’s unfinished base rests upon a dolly, as it would have at the artist’s studio on Mercer street where this work was made.

Nam June Paik
Video, five television sets
34 1/4 x 39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in 87 x 100 x 80 cm

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Commonly hailed as the father of video art, Nam June Paik saw the latent artistic potential in the glow of the television set sitting in every American’s living room.

Over the past half century, Nam June Paik has been the subject of numerous retrospectives at museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom; National Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom.

Paik’s work is included in the permanent collections of institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Hiroshima Museum, Hiroshima, Japan; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek, Denmark; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid, Spain; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MI; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Paik’s archive was acquired by the Smithsonian in 2009.

For more details, visit the gallery's Viewing Room here.

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