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GLOBAL GROOVE 2004: Nam June Paik's Electronic Stage

For the production of Global Groove 2004 in the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, a team of New York curators and restorers proved necessary. John Hanhardt and Caitlin Jones from the Film and Media Department at the Guggenheim Museum on electronic catalogues, the alterations video art undergoes when presented on modern-day equipment, and the internet as a utopian exchange market.

John Hanhardt and Caitlin Jones

As Global Groove 2004 was about to open in Berlin, I met with John Hanhardt, Senior Curator of Film and Media at the Guggenheim Museum and Caitlin Jones, Projects Research Assistant and Exhibition Coordinator for Nam June Paik's Global Groove 2004 in their New York offices in SoHo to talk with them about this latest Nam June Paik book and exhibition at Deutsche Guggenheim. The catalogue for Global Groove 2004 was designed by the New York studio of 2 x 4, Inc., known for their innovative book designs for Maya Lin and Philip Johnson as well as identity systems for New York's Second Stage Theater. Soon after my interview John Hanhardt and Caitlin Jones left for Berlin.

CHERYL KAPLAN: Mr. Hanhardt, you were the curator of The Worlds of Nam June Paik at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The exhibition was the first American retrospective of the Korean-born multi-media artist's work since 1982. What was the translation process like between Global Groove 2004 at the Deutsche Guggenheim and Paik's retrospective from 2000?

JOHN HANHARDT: The retrospective was organized in 2000, but the work began years earlier through conversations with the Guggenheim director Tom Krens that began with my appointment in 1996 as Senior Curator of Film and Media Arts. I was asked to develop the project, working with Nam June to create a retrospective focusing on his importance to art in the late 20th century and his new work. That exhibition went to Korea and to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The commission for Berlin began about two years ago. Krens was originally interested in working with the video wall at the Samsung Center for New Media at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo and offered Paik a commission to create a work that would be presented at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin.

Paik developed a concept to celebrate his single-channel video work. Global Groove 2004 is the 30-year celebration from 1973, when the original Global Groove was broadcast, celebrating Paik's singular contribution to video and television.

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

CK: How does the catalogue and the making of the catalogue for Global Groove 2004 differ from the catalogue for The Worlds of Nam June Paik?

JH: The Worlds of Nam June Paik catalogue represents the historical narrative and scope of Paik's career, in sculpture, installation, performance, and his involvement with Fluxus, and places his work within a broad context. I worked with my colleague Jon Ippolito. Now, I'm working with Caitlin Jones, who's been instrumental in developing this commission. The catalogue has an essay by myself, based on earlier writing about Paik's single-channel video tapes and work for television, and an essay by Caitlin looking at a new generation of work inspired by Nam June; it also contains a short analysis done by Anja Osswald, a German scholar of Global Groove, and Nam June Paik, as well as a reprint of a 1974 Everson Museum catalogue which contains some of the early writing by Paik. We capture both the contemporary view and Paik's early writings on video and television from the Everson catalogue.

CAITLIN JONES: It was John's idea to include the Everson Museum catalogue because of its contemporary relevance. Some of the issues raised in the 1974 writings are issues of copyright, media experimentation and manipulation of hardware. These issues are still at the forefront and highlight how prescient Nam June was. It's an amazing context to show the 2004 Version of Global Groove and these writings together. Young artists often cite Nam June as a major influence in the way he dealt with hardware as a sculptural object and his playfulness with the medium.

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