tv cello

TV Cello, 1971
by Nam June Paik
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA.
Mixed Media, Medium video tubes, TV chassis, plexiglass boxes, electronics, wiring, wood base, fan, stool, photograph extent. video tube in Plex box with removable back cover: 8-½ x 6-¾ x 14.



Last but certainly not least. If you haven’t read my Asylum Clue Analysis and Coven Clue Analysis, be sure to check them out. I’m going to go through all of the clues that were given to us before Murder House aired and piece together what they represented in the actual show. These are a lot easier to figure out than the Asylum and Coven teasers, since those were a lot more figurative. Also a disclaimer, this was the only video I could find that was a compilation of all the clues, and it also includes all the trailers that aired on TV after the clues.

Cello (0:00-0:15)

Here we see a woman being played as if her belly was a cello by two rubber hands. Not only does this represent Rubber Man manipulating Vivien by raping and impregnating her, but it also reminds us that Vivien used to be a cello player, and didn’t start playing again until after her death.

Baby (0:15-0:30)

The baby appears to be dead, as its face is pale and lips are blue. It’s wearing a bonnet similar to the one we saw Thaddeus wear at the dinner table in “Murder House”, so it’s likely a reference to him. It could also represent Charles’ many jars of fetuses that Troy and Brian found in the basement, and the repeated theme of dead babies (Vivien’s, Nora’s, Hayden’s, and Constance’s).

Couple (0:30-0:45)

Some people think the couple hints at Violet and Tate’s relationship, but I see it in a more general sense, as infidelity is the main theme of the season. It could be any of the multitude of couples we saw in MH, and it’s also probably hinting at the inherently sexual nature of the show.

Lying Down or Black Suit (0:45-1:00)

This was the very first teaser I ever saw for AHS, and obviously it piqued my interest in the show and was the reason why I ever watched it in the first place. When I first saw it (and had no idea what the premise of the show was) I thought it was about a man who one day wakes up covered in rubber and glued to a wall while his wife lies helpless and he can’t reach her. Boy was I off! Here we see the Rubber Man dangling from the wall (we’ll get to the walls later) as he manipulates Vivien, who’s sporting a baby bump. Another thing I didn’t notice until recently: young Moira tells Mr. Escandarian in “Open House” that she would paint Violet’s room a deep red… and what color is this room?

Fire (1:00-1:15)

We see a charred doll while we hear the crackling of a fire in the background. Obviously this hints at Larry’s daughters, who burned in the house with Lorraine. We even see Angie and Margaret having a tea party with their dolls with Travis in “Smoldering Children”.

Coffin (1:15-1:30)

Aside from representing the many deaths that take place in the Murder House, the girl in this teaser likely symbolizes Violet, who not only dies, but her body is hidden in the crawl space, which not only looks like the box in the video, but is also interesting because the girl “crawls” into it.

Stairs (1:30-1:45)

Here we see the Rubber Man first standing at the top of the stairs, and then at the bottom in front of the camera. The stairs allude to the basement, where most of the horror takes place, and where we first see Tate exposed as the Rubber Man in “Halloween” when he scares Violet (really, if that wasn’t the most obvious hint it was him all along, I don’t know what was). Rubber Man going down the stairs might also hint at his disposal of Chad and Pat’s bodies in the basement.

Melt (1:45-1:58)

This one stumped me for the longest time. Most people think it’s Tate, but after mulling it over I think it might be Travis. We know he eventually became the Boy Dahlia after Charles cut up the body so it can be removed from the house. I don’t really know, it’s the only instance I can remember of a guy without arms. Or it could be Tate, he seems to be lying on sand, and so that might refer to the scene when Violet and Tate go to the beach on Halloween night. I also don’t get why it’s called Melt, all that makes me think of is Larry’s face. I’m honestly not sure… what do you guys think?

Red Cello (1:58-2:13)

This is essentially the same as the Cello teaser, only this time it’s in color, again with that iconic red hue. This time we also see the woman’s belly go from flat to pregnant.

Rubber Bump (2:13-2:28)

Similar to the Lying Down clue, the Rubber Man hovers over Vivien, except this time he’s the one showing a bump, further confirming that he impregnates her.

Belly (2:28-2:48)

We see almost the exact same scene in “Piggy Piggy” when Vivien has a nightmare about the baby clawing through her belly. An obvious hint at the fact that she’s carrying the Antichrist.

Family Portrait (2:48-3:18)

A lot of things happen, so let’s break it down: we first see Addie both as her present-day and younger self roaming through the house, as she always gets caught doing. Thaddeus is also facing the corner behind them in his baptism gown. Troy and Brian also run past as a sort of mirage, signifying their death at the hands of the Infantata. Young Moira tries to seduce Ben while older Moira scrubs the floors; we also see a face in the water on the floor. I instantly think of Moira cleaning up Sally Freeman’s blood in “Murder House”. Constance makes a disgusted face as she passes by Larry, who walks into the fireplace and starts burning, easily signifying that he was burned by Tate and figuratively burned by Constance’s lack of love for him. Vivien rips the wallpaper off just like she did in the pilot to expose the murals underneath, and Rubber Man grabs her head. We also see the outline of a person trapped beneath the wallpaper, just like what happens in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, which Moira discusses in the “Rubber Man” episode (that discussion also hints at Vivien thinking she’s going crazy). Addie and Tate surround the same table, possibly signifying their sibling relationship, and Tate holds onto Violet’s hand, signifying their relationship. A ghost is also briefly seen behind them in the hallway, which may mean Violet dies and becomes a ghost because of Tate (also while Tate holds her). When everything’s finally settled, we see the Rubber Man in the corner hanging up just like the suit was in the sex shop when Chad bought it. There’s also a toy moving at the bottom left corner of the screen, likely representing Beau and the red ball. 

Watch on

Charlotte Moorman

plays the

TV Cello (1984)

Charlotte Moorman demonstrates the TV Cello on Nam June Paik’s TV special for PBS “Good Morning Mr. Orwell” from 1984. interviewed by george plimpton.