“I wanted to elevate television to an art form that was as highly valued as the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.”—Nam June Paik, born on this day in 1932.
V-yramid (1982), shown here installed in the 2015 exhibition America Is Hard to See, is a ziggurat of forty television sets of decreasing sized. Made for the artist’s retrospective at the Whitney in 1982, the work draws a visual analogy between ancient pyramidal architecture and modern media technology.
Nam June Paik, Performing La Monte Young’s “Composition 1960 No. 10” to Bob Morris (Zen for Head), (1962)
Presented during the Fluxus International Festival of New Music, this performance was Paik’s interpretation of La Monte Young’s Composition 1960 No.10 dedicated to artist Robert Morris who was quoted saying, “Draw a Straight Line and Follow it”. Paik’s performance consisted of him dipping his head, hands and tie in a bowl of ink and tomato juice and drawing a line by dragging his head along a narrow piece of paper laid out on the floor. Fluxus was concerned with carrying out deceptively simple actions in order to concentrate on the subtlety of a gesture, bringing about a fusion of art with life. In Zen for Head, Paik parodies the notion of meditative art-making by physically enacting a painting gesture using the body as a tool rather than the repository of mental or spiritual processes. The head, the source of creative thinking, becomes the mark maker, actively engaged in the process of material and action.