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The Video Work of Nam June Paik, a Retrospective: 1963-1993

2 february, 1994 - 26 february, 1994 /
Sabatini Building, Auditorium

1993 marks 30 years since the spring-summer of 1963 when Nam June Paik (Seoul, 1932 - Miami, 2006) inaugurated his Exposition of Music-Electronic Television at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal. Having acquired a mythical aura over the years, the event is considered to represent the birth of the electronic arts today. This video programme reflects recent investigations in the field, which have made it possible to recover and publically present some of Paik’s ealiest work - particularly his experimental films, early videos and the first intermedia audiovisual explorations - now rescued from the oblivion in which they lay for 30 years.

The programme features works that Paik created between 1965 and 1970 in collaboration with the experimental North American filmmaker Jud Yalkut (New York, 1938), whose contribution to the birth of the new arts has been unfairly ignored for too long. These are unique works not seen since the 1960s and even then only known in Europe. For Paik, these works clearly served as investigations into working materials, explorations, video-film notes, linguistic and conceptual experiments and, at the same time, ‘artworks’ dated and signed by the artist. The results of the videos and multimedia works, whether in terms of images or editing relationships, led to Paik’s most famous videos from the 1970s, the first that the artist openly recognised as ‘his’ video pieces.

Not wanting to overstate the emotion entailed in coming into contact with Paik’s first reliably dated works, the goal of this series is to document the birth of the electronic arts. It contains the first videos from the history of video art, the merging of experimental film into a new electronic language. Paik and Yalkut marked this passage with Cinéma Metaphysique (1966-1967), with which they inaugurated not only the great field of the ‘electronic arts’, but also the even more fascinating and expressively productive dimension of the ‘intermediality’ of the reciprocal and self-conscious expression of different media, language and experiences, whether technological or not.

This retrospective presents the early videos along with the corpus of Paik’s video work to add to our knowledge about and remove the rhetoric from the study of a 20th-century artist who helped confront the troubled and fraught post-modern era with elegance and irony.

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