CK: The Internet and cable TV
promise 24-hour access, but it's also a facade, something's still not
CJ: Within those confines, Paik found
ways to navigate through that corporate structure, what he calls "Video
Land." He managed to make Global Groove out of that and prove
his point. A new generation of video, Internet artists, from
010101 to jodi.org, and video and game
artists are finding creative ways through that as well.
Alex Galloway and others as part of the Radical Software Group, developed
a work called Carnivour based on FBI software that monitored
network activity by searching for keywords over the Internet. RSG took it
out of the FBI surveillance context and released it to the internet
community at large for people to use in an art context. They are using
control systems in the same spirit that Paik used broadcast television in
JH: These artists are activists, thinkers, and
inventors breaking these interlocking controls. Paik was part of a
community of artists who intervened into cable and television and
developed new ways of working. Contemporary artists look back at Paik's
example and are inspired, and Paik in turns values this new generation.
CK: What was your process of collecting and sorting the archival imagery
for the catalogues? Was there a massive database?
Ippolito, the Guggenheim's Associate Curator of Media Arts, created a
massive database of images for The Worlds of Nam June Paik with the
help of Steven Vitiello
formerly of Electronic Arts Intermix
. It was an involved process. For both catalogues, all images were from
Nam June's single-channel video works, made accessible through Electronic
Arts Intermix. Many of the black and white images in the Everson catalogue
were taken by
Peter Moore , made available by the estate of Peter Moore and VAGA.
CK: John, when did you first meet Paik and what were the circumstances?
JH: I first met Paik in the early 70s. At the time I was working at the
Museum of Modern Art, in the film department, and then, in the early 70s,
I established the film collection at the
Walker Art Center. After that I went to the Whitney to develop a film
program and expanded it to include video. During this time Paik and I
spent a lot of time together in his studio talking about his work and the
work of other artists. Paik felt that the medium was so important as an
art form - it wasn't only about himself, and it was that generous spirit
that made him so loved.
CK: In 1974, WNET/Channel 13 in New
York broadcast Nam June Paik's Global Groove. You've said that "
Global Groove transformed the broadcast studio into an experimental venue
for dancers, musicians, and performance artists." How is that sense of the
experiment experienced both in the Deutsche Guggenheim exhibition in
Berlin and the new catalogue?
Merce by Merce by Paik: video-still
JH: The Deutsche Guggenheim installation will give
you access to an extraordinary visual experience. 65 projection cubes from
the video wall which was previously part of the Samsung Center for Art
Media have been transformed into three units or clusters, so as you enter
into the space you see one cluster, then another, and then at the far end
of the gallery a large wall is constructed with these video cubes. The
artisthas re-edited to create and fashion a dialogue between three of his
tapes: Global Groove, Merce by Merce by Paik, and Suite
212, and 9/23/69 Experiment with David Atwood. These pieces
give you an extraordinary experience. The experience ranges from a full
image that covers the entire matrix of images to individual details, all
choreographed and synthesized to create a dynamic visual dialogue through
these pieces, these units, and into the space itself. Surrounding this is
Paik's installation One Candle (Candle Projection), where a candle
is projected onto the wall and ceiling, playfully integrated with
Cunningham dancing, John
Cage and with Charlotte Moorman celebrating avant-garde culture.
CK: You've written that in Paik's view, "Television is not simply a
historical remnant of industry and consumer capitalism, nor is it
electronic furniture or a compromised form of one-way distribution."
What's Paik's take on television's transformation or lack of
JH: Paik has always seen the radical
potential of television through public access and cable. Still new
possibilities exist in telecasting and distribution realized through
CK: Technological advances have happened for
mass culture, but the transformation is still in process culturally.
CJ: I work on the preservation of media technology. In the case of Paik
and others, the plasma screens have changed, but the content is the same.
The change in the televisions carries ramifications for Paik's sculptural
works. A lot of the things he does with television and image processing
and manipulation can't be done on the new televisions. It happened because
of the old technology, so that's just another element in that forward