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>> John Hanhardt and Caitlin Jones: curators of "Global Groove 2004"

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>>See also the reprint: Catalogue of the Everson Museum


JH: Global Groove was produced at WNET Television NY . It employed the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer, a technology Paik created with the engineer Shuya Abe that allowed him to synthesize, to refashion the electronic image. It was one of the first works using this image processor to telecast. Paik grasped the potential of video and television as media and created new tools to transform them.

CK: Did you think about creating an electronic version of the catalogue?

JH: It was important to add to the literature by using a traditional print publication. By reprinting the Everson catalogue we are making it available to a new generation of scholars. We're interested in other ways of distributing this information through our web site.

CK: How involved was Nam June in the New York and Berlin exhibitions?

JH: I did a retrospective with Paik at the Whitney in 1982. In 1996, he suffered a stroke; this impaired him physically, but mentally he's very sharp and has a great memory and great ideas. In his studio, we worked with Paik's wife, Shigeko Kubota, Jon Huffman, and Ken Hakuda, who is Paik's nephew and manages the studio. Paik expressed his ideas in drawings and I worked very closely with him to design and curate the space and to create Global Groove 2004 . The invitation to work with the video wall, his selection of the video tapes and how he wanted them edited and conjoined with Candle Projection to create this electronic light environment installation developed from conversations with him and his studio.



Global Groove at Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin: setting up the exhibition

CK: You likened Global Groove to a postmodern vaudeville. What's the link between television's early history, where programs resembled vaudeville, and Paik's use of that quality to deliver performance-based works?

JH: Global Groove begins with a statement imagining a moment when TV Guide will be as thick as a Manhattan telephone directory. We're talking about multiple channels you switch to as you're going through programs on Global Groove. Commercials are captured from around the world, as well as Robert Breer's films and performances by Charlotte Moorman, his great collaborator. It contains all the chance happenings. Performance is put onto an electronic stage. Early television had a static, single-camera setup that literally recreated the stage. Like early cinema, Paik refashions the electronic image, placing it in a radically new performance space that television could become. This was further developed in Good Morning Mr. Orwell with Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson and other global performance pieces.

JH: He embraced the total possibility of the medium, the interactive quality of it. He talked about lasers and new forms of transmission in that 1974 Everson catalogue. Now a new generation of artists is imagining the Internet as a new means of communication, challenging the frame of that medium.


Proof: pages for the catalogue "Global Groove 2004'. Photo by Cheryl Kaplan

CK: What was Paik's background in science and technology?

JH: He understood possibilities and had a real gift for working with collaborators. He found someone like Shuya Abe, and pushed Abe to reconceive the medium in ways he hadn't imagined. He later collaborated with Horst Baumann to create laser works in the 80s and Norman Ballard to create laser works for The Worlds of Nam June Paik .

CK: What can be learned from Paik, the "father of video," in reference to today's world, which boasts a consumer culture decked out in digital paraphernalia? Mass consumer culture is fluent in technology, yet Paik's concepts still haven't been realized at the public level.

CJ: It's amazing that computers come with editing software - that a philosophy of play is encouraged. In the Everson catalogue, Paik refers to corporate control over images. In contemporary culture, there are still safeguards. You can buy the DVD, but you can't copy it, you can't fast forward through the commercials. There's an illusion of accessibility, but there are still controls. Paik's concerns in Global Groove are still at issue.



Global Groove 2004 at Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin: setting up the exhibition

JH: Global Groove is about an infinite expansion of television and video. He imagined the flat screen to expand the moving image and empower the individual. That was at the radical heart of his work as a Fluxus artist, how chance and humor can change things. It's about breaking the mold of the one-way street of broadcast television.

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