Donald Judd Robert Smithson Glend Leigon David Hammons Richard Serra Sol Lewitt Kosuth Fred Wilson Faith Wilding Faith Ringgold
Nam June Paik
Reserve Writing Center Tutor
Opera Sextronique (1967) TV Bra for Living Sculpture (1969) “Playable Pieces” - concept art - instructs the performer to "climb inside the vagina of a live female whale." - "Cut your left forearm a distance of ten centimeters." performed by Joseph Byrd "TV Cello" "TV Buddha" "Positive Egg" "Video Fish" "Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii" "Good Morning, Mr. Orwell" linked by "WNET" "Bye Bye Kipling" "The more the better": a giant tower made entirely of 1003 monitors (Olympic) "Tiger is Alive": a millennium satellite broadcast entitled
objects and paper
imagines "facial recognition software"
imagines send wave directly to brain
Paik: challenge of using new media is to "humanize" technology
writing about sex robot: sex robots with "expandable-shrinkable cathode ray tube," concluding, "please, tele-fuck! with your lover in RIO.
"Confused Rain" (1967)
"Etude 1" reference A. Michael Noll, Bell Labs engineer - first show of computer generated art.
Nam June Paik, Etude 1, 1967–68, printed Thermofax paper with additions in ink, 8 × 11 inches (20.3 × 27.9 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Nam June Paik Archive, gift of the Nam June Paik Estate, code in FORTRAN 66
"And so we conducted interviews with people like Carol Brandenburg, a longtime Paik supporter and producer at WNET, who helped orchestrate and navigate the complex constellation of people, stations, and technologies that constituted Paik’s three satellite works of the 1980s, Good Morning, Mr. Orwell (1984), Bye Bye Kipling (1986), and Wrap Around the World (1988),"
Zen for Film (1962-64)
Paik's Archive: https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/nam-june-paik-archive-77502 Zen for TV (1963-1976) Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii (1995) Megatron/Matrix (1995).
Japan, Germany, U.S.
Writing "How to Make Oil Obsolete"
"brain-power must prevail over oil-power"
..."which would also indicate ecological well-being" - TV Garden
TV Garden: tv is a part of ecology (not against echology) - referenced in Paik's own writing
Good citation to look
Uncle Video: https://www.sfmoma.org/watch/ken-hakuta-my-uncle-nam-june-paik/
Chinese Drawing book: https://www.sfmoma.org/read/nam-june-paik-drawing-notebook-1996/
Museum Landscape: https://sfmoma-media-dev.s3.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/www-media/2021/05/03203628/Nam-June-Paik_Exhibition-Guide_for-Web_FIT_4.30.21_FINAL2.pdf
Nam June Paik Archive: https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/nam-june-paik-archive-77502
https://americanart.si.edu/blog/computers-and-art Computers: were used in military
Bell Labs: https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E8%B4%9D%E5%B0%94%E5%AE%9E%E9%AA%8C%E5%AE%A4/686816
Bell Labs and AT&T(SBC) video: https://vd3.bdstatic.com/mda-kkjichygjssqnugr/hd/cae_h264_nowatermark/1605861381/mda-kkjichygjssqnugr.mp4
1940年 数据型网络 1947年 晶体管、移动电话技术 1954年 太阳能电池 1958年 激光 1960年 金氧半场效应晶体管(MOSFET)（用于大规模集成电路的逻辑单元CMOS，如微处理器、单片机等） 1962年 语音信号数字传输、通信卫星：Telstar1 1963年 无线电天文学（太空望远镜、电波望远镜） 1969年 UNIX操作系统、电荷耦合组件（CCD，用于条码读取器、摄影机、扫描仪、复印机） 1972年 C语言 1979年 系统单芯片型的数字信号处理器（SoCDSP，用于调制解调器、无线电话等
History of FORTRAN (formula translation): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KohboWwrsXg&ab_channel=vulcanhammerinfo
Running FORTRAN in IBM 1401: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFQ3sajIdaM&ab_channel=CuriousMarc
Punch Card Programming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG2M4ttzBnY&ab_channel=Computerphile (Professor Brailsford)
stack of punch card
The book: preserve original writings of Paik, even to misspelling of proper names. (xvii)
Ego machine (1974): a typewriter only type "Paik" (xvii)
"Moving Theater" (1964): moving theater on truck. (6)
82: criticized as unreflective techno-utopianism
"Living with the Living Theatre" satellite transmissions.
"The Worlds of Nam June Paik": inspired by information theory, end of millennium, Cold War (7).
Influenced by K.O. Gotz: video art
mixing music performance and visual video
transform TV into interactive musical instrument that generated sound and imagery specific to the electronic medium (p10)
(at that time there exists no interactive art)
Random Access (1963): interactive (such that the feedback is not predictable?), audience-activated tools (p10)
Learning Mike Noll of Bell Labs
created Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer (with Shuya Abe)
Made "Global Groove" with synthesizer (in WNET-TV Lab)
TV Magnet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Nv9DBFUbRU&ab_channel=DiodeGoneWild
Nam June Paik's Etude 1 and the Indeterminate origins of Digital Media Art
don't ignore how hard it is to do things
gravity of Bell Lab: give you a list of invention (many scientists' dream place), and history of AT&T
in reading Paik's letter, I get a sense language of "1980" was "tele-", much like language today is about "AI-" stuff, and "electric-" stuff before.
here is "generative quantum art" https://medium.com/qiskit/rothko-inspired-generative-quantum-art-6f34ca9d17cb
old FORTRAN 66 (by https://direct.mit.edu/octo/article/doi/10.1162/octo_a_00321/59369/Nam-June-Paik-s-Etude-1-and-the-Indeterminate, is "could only be compiled—that is, translated from human-generated code to machine-readable format—to run on the mainframes of that era; no fortrAN 66 compilers currently exist. All I could do was learn to read the code." which i think it is not true)
Read: "Letter to Howard Klein" in class
computer picture letter (1967)
Letter to David C. Stewart (1968): "Bell Labs is beginning a computer-controlled scanning experiment, which smells like a development of my method"
"Ultil now I have treated the cathode ray tube as a paper"
"but from now on, I will treat the cathode ray as pen and paper"
Nam June Paik is great because he takes tech to its extreme.... innovative approach is done by taking medium to its extreme
Video Synthesizer -
Living in the 21 century, I often subconsciously take "God-like technologies" (The real problem of humanity is the following: We have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology) for granted. It isn't unusual for a modern exhibition to feature electronic and interactive art that utilized robots, projectors, and perhaps even AI algorithms. However, when applying this mindset to exam the experimental video artworks from 20-century, one might be confused by their absurdity in coloring, editing, and narration. Thus, it is easy to mistakenly underappreciate pioneers of experimental artists like Nam June Paik. Being arguably the most impactful video artist in the 20 century, Paik's exploration of electronic moving images give birth to a series of art in new mediums. His experimental mindset, which can be seen in his manipulation of magnets on TVs, his invention of a video synthesizer, and his computer-based imageries, made him a pioneer in blending art and technology.
Paik's interest in experimenting with magnets on televisions can be traced back to his childhood. Very early in his life, Paik has a strong curiosity about TVs which led him to investigate ways to manipulate TV imagery. Paik's nephew, Ken Hakuta, describes Paik's childhood curiosity about the white spot that appears after CTR television set shuts down: "I remember when you turned off the big Zenith, ... there's like a white spot in the middle. Nam June thought that was kinda scary" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=droJYnSNsok). Such fascination with TV imageries persists even after his move to the United States. (p11) Continuing such curiosity, Paik's installed his "Magnet TV" in which he put a big industrial magnet on top of a TV to stretch the TV image. Such simple installation of magnets, though, took deep understandings of Electromagnetism and the mechanics of the Cathode-ray tube. If Paik were to choose colored TV instead of single-channeled TV, the imagery would not be coherent. Other installations took a lot more effort: "Life Ring 66" is a ring of electrical copper wire, put together by electrical and masking tape, that Paik used to generate the magnetic field in front of the TV screen. The ring must be carefully oriented in the direction of the desired magnetic field to achieve the interference with aesthetic quality. (page 112) The imperfection of tape and hand-crafted quality of the ring shows his engineering spirit (to achieve certain effects regardless of methods) and his courage to explore a field of study in which he does not specialize.
Paik's pioneer spirit can also be seen in the exploit of his own invention. After he was introduced to Bell Lab, he invented Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer with Shuya Abe in 1968. The synthesizer contains seven non-linear amplifiers for RGB color adjustments and one knob for hue adjustment. Besides, extra deflection yokes could be sandwiched into layers of the RGB colorizer, making deformed and colored images superimposed upon each other (https://www.n3krozoft.com/_xxbcf67373.TMP/tv/paik_abe_synthesizer.html, http://www.vasulka.org/archive/eigenwelt/pdf/126-129.pdf). With such an intricate signal processing device, Paik was able to approximate a modern style image remix of video live from cable signal feed. The unprecedented (Paik, "Flyingen Bulletin") technique give birth to a new visual language that did not exist in films at the time. Many of his later work that uses Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer fell into the same visual language: Stretched, shifted, and color-adjusted footages from different sources that had little continuity were mixed together, creating a collage of moving images. Paik's determined effort to achieve certain image effects drove him into inventing a device that ultimately created a new visual language.
Willingness to explore new media also exemplifies Paik's pioneer spirit. Around 1967, Paik, along with other artists, was invited to Bell Labs to help engineers experiments the potential of computers to create art (https://direct.mit.edu/octo/article/doi/10.1162/octo_a_00321/59369/Nam-June-Paik-s-Etude-1-and-the-Indeterminate). "Etude 1", likely being a part of Paik's "computer movie" or "electrical opera" project (although, 354, electrical opera, computer movie 361) ended up becoming one of the very first digital art. Such art is extremely hard to make: One had to type commands on a typewriter and then translate to a large stack of punch cards using a punch card machine. After loading the compiler on a tape, one would feed cards into the machine and hope that there is no error in the code. In fact, along with the generated artwork, a piece of program (6~7 in https://direct.mit.edu/octo/article/doi/10.1162/octo_a_00321/59369/Nam-June-Paik-s-Etude-1-and-the-Indeterminate), written by Paik in FORTRAN 66, is determined to be a non-executable version that failed to generate "Etude 1". In this case, poor Paik has to either guess the error from nonsense byte code generated by machines or rewrite the program entirely. However, no other Paik's computer-generated artwork was found, and perhaps neither "electrical opera" nor "computer movie" were created which is explainable by hardware limitations in early computers (something like IBM 1401). Nevertheless, Paik's willingness to explore unprecedented art forms on state-of-the-art technologies exemplifies his pioneer spirit.
Paik engaged in various aspects of technology advancement in the 20 century and exemplifies the pioneer spirit in experimental art. His philosophical writings about the technological future that are often considered ahead of his time naturally follow from his hands-on experience with technologies. In fact, in "Letter to Howard Klein (1967)", (350) he wrote, "Actually I believe that merging of art and technology should end in the merging of artist and technician into one person." He used his action to prove the possibility to integrate art and technology.
it is quite likely for a viewer to be confused by a 20-century experimental video art for its absurdity in coloring, editing, and narration, and thus underappreciated pioneers of experimental artists like Nam June Paik.
In 1970s, as Paik was introduced to Bell's Lab, he
Nam June Paik's
Nam June Paik always has an experimental mindset that experiments the possibility of various media to the extreme. He often think ahead of
"confused rain" "ETUDE 1"
Rethinking the value of "Technology Art" with Nam June Paik's Artwork
Traditionally, technologies are thought as tools for art. This is true: technologies are often designed to have use value while art is commonly thought as "for art's sake" (Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier). It would be unnatural for the two to appear in the same realm. Therefore, one common opinion about the relationship between technologies and art is that technologies enables artists to complete their artwork more efficiently and with better quality. However, this essay challenges such simplistic look on the relationship between art and technology by claiming the existence of a new genre of art: technology art, and then grounding this framework in relation to Nam June Paik's artwork. Although technology art is not well recognized as art, it does provide artistic value for viewer to reflect on the past as well as to imagine the future.
Walking in a contemporary art museum, one will occasionally encounter some technology-influenced artwork being displayed that is neither visually interesting nor has emphasis on philosophical meanings. However, after closer examination, one will discover that they do burry subtle meanings that invoke the viewer's wonder about technological past or future. This subset of technology-inspired artworks with unconventional medium that is neither visually appearling nor philosophical, which I will refer to as "technology art", is a genre of art made possible with historical or futuristic technology.
Technology art is not well recognized as being an art(note: ), for it is neither created for visually quality nor for deep philosophical meanings or advocacy. The lack of visual quality is a common theme among technology art, if not necessary for being a technology art. Take Nam June Paik's "Etude 1" as an example. The artwork is repetition of four words "LOVE", "HATE", "GOD", and "DOG" generated on four concentric circle by computer plotters on a piece of paper. The binary black-and-white color scheme and perfectly symmetric circles themselves can hardly attract the viewer's attention. I have to say that "Etude 1" is visually uninteresting: any college student can make something more visually appearling than this using a plotter machine without much labor. There must be something other than the visual quality that captures the viewer's interests. In addition, technology art emphasis less on conveying philosophical meaning than showcaseing of the medium. Paik's intention of creating technology art illustrates this point. In talking about his ambition in his letters, Paik repeatly mentioned that he wanted to "compose the first computer-opera"(Nam June Paik letter to Norman Lloyd, May 29, 1967. rockefeller Archive Center, Collection SUNy–Stony Brook, Nam June Paik, group 1.2, series 200r, box 423, folder 3648.)(Ibid., 354.) and make a "computer movie" (Paik, We Are in Open Circuits, 361.) The use of the qualifier "computer" all over the lines before "opera" and "movie" indicates that Paik values the medium over the actual content of the work. His letters about the work "WRAP AROUND THE WORLD" (379-381) also justify this point. In the letter, Paik not only named this piece using the concept of satellite broadcasting, but also added a short description to emphasize the medium over the content: "WRAP AROUND THE WORLD - Satellite show around the world"(380). Although many of Paik's work do contain elements of social-political advocacy, yet "Etude 1" was clearly not created for this purpose since it would be a stretch for viewer to draw some meaningful political conclusion out of simple geometries that symbolize nothing. Besides, if Paik indeed wanted it to convey political messages, "Etude 1" would have been published after its birth instead of sitting in some forgotten folder in Bell Labs (cite folder). Paik's "Etude 1" and "WRAP AROUND THE WORLD" exemplify technology art, emphasising the technological medium over political or philosophical meanings and can sometimes be visually unappealing.
If an artwork is created with neither artistic visual nor deep philosophical meaning or advocacy, would it still be considered art? If so, in what way does the artwork engage with the viewer? The following paragraphs claim that technology art's value lies in two aspects: it offers the viewer to reflect on the past and to imagine the future.
Technology art offers the viewer to reflect on the past. Upon close examination at "Etude 1", one has to realize the intricacy of its creation. "Etude 1" is hard to make: One had to type commands on a typewriter and then translate to a large stack of punch cards using a punch card machine. After loading the compiler on a tape, one would feed punch cards into the giant computer and hope that there is no error in the code. In fact, discovered along with the generated artwork, a piece of program, written by Paik in FORTRAN 66, is determined to be a non-executable version that failed to generate "Etude 1". In this case, poor Paik had to either guess the error from nonsense byte code generated by machines or rewrite the program entirely. For an audience who experienced similar technological difficulty in the past, the process of viewing "Etude 1" is the process of recognizing, recalling, and acknowledging a period of shared history when technology convenience were not avaliable. "Etude 1" is valuable because it offers the viewer with opportunity to reflect on viewer's own past in relation to artist's past. On the other hand, for younger generations who do not live in the same period of history as the artists, "Etude 1" would invoke viewer's wonder about the past. The creation process of "Etude 1" is drastically different than its recreation using modern technology. Therefore, any such recreation would undermine its value. For this reason, "Etude 1" could be viewed as a documentation of performance art that happened in the past. Coincidentally, the FORTRAN code and the specification of FORTRAN 66 corresponds nicely to the instructions in performance art. In fact, to maintain the value of "Etude 1", a meaningful recreation must employ the exact old technology Paik used to create "Etude 1". Younger generation who did not experience the process of art-making, would able to "perceive" the performance that is unconventional to the viewer's time just by examing the "documentation" of technology art. Technology art provides older generation with a valueable memory as well as yonger generation with a wonder about the past.
Technology art offers the viewer to imagine the future. Since technology advancements is continuous and artworks are often fixed in time, the value of technology art has to be analyzed in the context of history. By definition, technology art utilizes experimental medium involving state-of-art technology with respect to the time of its creation. The employment of new technology in the arts can give key insights about future to the viewer. For example, "Etude 1" resembles one of the very first computer-generated artwork. Indeed, if "Etude 1" were ever published, the artwork would sure make people realize the potential of computers for art creation. Many of Paik's video art also explicitely contains Paik's own futuristic thinkings. In "Good Morning, Mr. Orwell", Paik conveys his visionary of global information exchange by transatlantic settelites through the voice of the TV presentor and called the show "a global disco" (https://youtu.be/ylq4iyw8ogE?t=378). In both cases, the value of technology art lies in providing visionary and futuristic dreams to the viewer by giving a vivid example of what can be done with the technology. Another gift from technology art to the art community is the invention of a new visual language. After Paik was introduced to Bell Labs, he invented the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer with Shuya Abe in 1968. The synthesizer contained seven non-linear amplifiers for RGB color adjustments and one knob for hue adjustment. In some versions of the device, extra deflection yokes could be sandwiched into layers of the RGB colorizer, making deformed and colored images superimposed upon each other. With such an intricate signal processing device, Paik was able to approximate a modern style image remix of video live from cable signal feed. Employing this technology, many of Paik's later work that was synthesized by the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer fell into the same visual language: Stretched, shifted, and color-adjusted footage from different sources were mixed together with little continuity, creating a collage of moving images. The unprecedented technique gave birth to a new visual language that did not exist in films at the time. Paik's technology art of other medium also create new visual languages. For "Etude 1", the new visual language is the precision that is natural to machine drawings. For "Magnet TV", it is the distorted imagery and disturbed signals from TVs. Technology art, upon its creation, provides the viewer with visionaries and emergence of new visual language.
Paik's artwork exemplifies key aspects of technology art. The existence of technology as a new genre challenges historical view of what constitutes as artwork. Before modern era, although there existed technological changes such as chemical dyes that revolutionalized the process or art making, technology art didn't really exists because the changes in technology were at a slow rate. A person living in Medieval can hardly notice any technological advancement. The technological explosion in the 20 century gave birth to this new genre since the change of technological advancement directly assigned meaning to these artwork. With exponential rate of technological advancement as of today, technology art will be acknowledged by more people.
unconventional medium using technology
little social political advocacy, at least not created for social change
can only be (will be meaningful only if) viewed in the context of technological advancement at the time of the artwork's creation
may or may not be visually interesting
often opens a new visual language with respect to time of creation
offers the viewer to reflect on the past: invoke the memory, history, creation process, and wonder about the past
offers the viewer to imagine the future: wonder about the future
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