Category Archives: media

ideas media

Time and Space Concepts in Music and Visual Art

Merce Cunningham, Nam June Paik, John Cage (1978)


  • “All profound things have been spoken, so I will speak something vulgar.”
  • “Only in artist, art and heavyweight boxing, you have to be top five to pay your rent.  And in heavyweight boxing you always know who wins.  Although it can be fixed, but not as easily as in the art world.”
  • “Key quesiton of our society is human time and machine time.  Why happens the car accident… The engine is faster than break… So we have to think of machine time.”
  • “Video tape has sequential access, books are random access.  That’s why books are still the most advance technology…”
  • “What is time – past, present, future.  You can measure past, you can measure future – you cannot measure ‘now.”
  • “Nobody has the guts to make music as bad as John Cage”
art media readings

Paik Archive – June 1st 2011

The Shuya Abe (Abe) collection spans the years 1963-2010 (bulk 1971-2001) and consists of 0.6 cubic meter of records collected and created by Abe. The collection reflects collaboration between Abe and Nam June Paik (NJP). The collection includes correspondence between Abe and NJP; circuit drawings created by Abe; drawings and prints gifted to Abe; scrap materials collected by Abe; catalogs, texts, brochures, flyers regarding NJP’s exhibition as well as art work; photographs of Robot K-456, NJP, and Abe; notes written by NJP and Abe; and small objects that NJP gifted.

Box/Folder: 0002/06

  • Correspondence between Abe and Experimental Television Center (Sherry & Ralph Miller), 1979
  • Charlotte Moorman postcard to Abe:  “Greetings from Italy!  Paik + I were at the Kolk Kunstverein where I performed his TV cello (Beautiful German TV sets) + are now in asolo where F Conz is making a grand edition on Paik + Me)

Box/Folder: 0002/07

  • Fedex receipt – Nam June Paik: 110 Mercer St. NY NY 10012

Box/Folder: 0002/09

  • Flyer for “Electronic Video Recorder”
  • “Through the grant of J D R 3rd fund (1965 spring term), 5 years old dream of me the combination of Electronic Television & Video Tape Recorder is realized.  It was the long long way, since I got this idea in Cologne Radio Station in 1961, when its price was as high as half million dollars.  I look back with a bitter grin of having paid 25 dollar for a fraud instruction “Build the Video Recorder Yourself” and of the desperate struggle to make it with Shuya Abe last year in Japan.  In my video-taped electro vision, not only you see your picture instantaneously and find out what kind of bad habits you have, but see yourself deformed in 12 ways, which only electronic ways can do.”
  • “*it is the historical necessity, if there is a historical necessity in history, that a new decade of electronic television should follow to the past decade of electronic music”
  • “** Variablity & Indeterminism is underdeveloped in optical art as a parameter Sex is underdeveloped in music”
  • “***As collage technic replaced oil-paint, the cathode ray tube will replace the canvas”
  • “****Someday artists will work with capacitors, resistors & semi-conductors as they work today with brushes, violins & junk”

IMG 1259

  • Strange short note at end showing Paik’s understanding of bandwidth
  • “Laser idea No 3 
    Because of VVHF of LASER, we will have enough radio stations to afford Mozart-only stations, Cage-only stations, Bogart-only TV stations, Underground Movie-only TV stations etc. etc. etc.”

Box/Folder: 0002/16

  • Letter asking for Shuya Abe’s paycheck “WITHOUT any interruption. It is psychologically very important.”

Box/Folder: 0002/20

  • Nam June Paik – Electronic Art II – Galeria Bonino – 7 West 57th Street, New York 19, N.Y.
  • Kaprow intoduction
    • “… was first known to us in the early 60’s as a cultural terrorist.”
    • “Paik was the all-too-live embodiment of his ironic assertion that the relative is the absolute, and vice versa”
    • “Of course, no one was really harmed by Paik in the past, although the warnings abounded.  Similarly, at present, nothing is really lost by his deflections ofthe video information pattern. (His pianos, incidentally, were old and irreparable, and his television consoles are cast-off derelects from Canal Street, which will also play normally.)  Energies are simply rechannneled.  Paik’s terrorism is philosophical rather than truly destructive.  As he shook up the habits of our minds in the past, he shakes up the electrical pathways in the television brain.  If only to clear the air for wonderment and positive action.  Once cleared, work begins.”
    • In a recent paper prepared in connection with research he is conducting at the State Universit of New York at Stony Brook, he outlines some dozen probing and quite possible, ideas.   Among these are his ‘Instant Gloabl University’, comprised of computer-stored and mailable video tapes, from which an Westerner could studey, say Asian musical instrucments under the best performers available; also, all music manuscripts of past and present could be collated and cross-references for instant retrieval; art history, as well, studied in this form, would make conventional texts obsolete; television, in concert with hollography, could amplify not only our studies of three-deminstional and multi-media arts, but could also be helpful in physics and mathematics; electronics as such becomes vividly palpably once Paik’s “interventions” are literraly seen; elementary school children, increasingly tuned to an electronic world, can be communicated with an taught in all these ways as well as taught to draw directly in the kinetic space of the cathode ray tube.  It would go a long way toward shortening the great distance between current knowledge and current instruction of the young.”
    • “His knowledge of, and respect for, the past was a condition for his forceful libration from its grasp.  Today, he is among the most modern of us.”
  • Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer with Charlotte Moorman – Electronic Art III – Galeria Bonino – 7 West 57th Street, New York 19, N.Y.
    • John Cage – “on nam june paik’s “Zen for Film” (1962-64)
      • “On the nature of silence:” compares 4’33” with Rauschenberg’s blank canvases with Paik’s Zen for Film.  In 4’33”, “in the music, the sounds of the environment remain, so to speak, where they are, whereas in the case of the Rauschenberg painting the dust and the shadows, the changes in light and so forth, don’t remain where they are but come to the painting.  In the case of the Nam June Paik film, which has no images on it, the room is darkened, the film is projected, and what you see is the dust that has collected on the film.  I think that’s somewhat similar to the case of the Rauschenberg painting, though the focuse is more intense.  The nature of the environment is more on the film, different form the dust and shadows that are the environment falling on the painting, and thus less free.”
      • “N.B. Dear John:  The nature of environment is much much more on TV than on film or painting.  In fact, TV (its random movement of tiny electrons) IS the environment of today. (1971)”
    • Russell Connor introduction
      • “Anyone who moves with such languid felicity into the future that he dares to kid about it is bound to unnerve those ho view each dawn with apprehension (future shock every morning, like cornflakes, for some of us)
      • On the Paik-Abe synthesizer: “Seeing it in operation in Aspen, Cartier-Bresson was heard to observe that he had never seen such color in any other medium<whether in art or in life.”
  • “Mostly Video” catalogue from the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
    • La Vie, Satellites, On Meeting-One Life by Nam June Paik
      • “Sarutobi Sasuke, a famous ninja (a samurai who mastered many fantastic arts, include that of making himself invisible, chiefly to spy upon an enemy).  The first step for a ninja is learning how to shorten distances by shrinking the earth, that is , how to transcend the law of gravity.  For the satellite, this is apiece of cake.”
      • “There is no rewind button on the BETAMAX of life.  An important event takes place only once.  The free deaths (of Socrates, Christ, Bo Yi and Shu Qi) that became the foundation for the morality of three civilizations occurred only once.  The meeting of person and person, of person and specific era are often said to take place “one meeting-one life,” but the bundle of segments of this existence (if segments can come in bundles) has grown much thicket between the satellite.”
      • “Thoreau, the author of Walden, Life in the Woods, and a nineteenth-century forerunner of the hippies, wrote, “The telephone company is trying to connect Maine and Tennessee by telephone.  Even if it were to succeed, though, what would the people say to each other?  What could the possibly find to talk about?”  Of course, history eventually answered Theoreau’s questions (silly ones at that).  There developed a feedback (or, to use an older term, dialectic) of new contacts breeding new contents and new contents breeding new contacts”
      • “In 1963 French television recorded a meeting between Edgar Varese and Marcel Duchamp.  Now that both of these giants have passed away, I find it a stirring moment no matter how many times I watch it.”
      • “God created love to propagate the human race, but unawares, man began to love simply to love.  By the same logic, although man talks to accomplish something, unawares, he soon begins to talk simply to talk.”
      • linguistic discussion on the history of freedom (in language, as a concept)
    • Nam June Paik and the Transformation of Video into Art – John G. Hanhardt
      • “the question that should be asked is not whether video is an art form bu how video changes our definition and conception of art.”
      • “As with any new medium, the traditions resist a new technology that appears to simply record reality rather than transform it through an artists’ vision or aesthetic” (compare to Kittler’s discussion of Nagy’s vinyl scratches)
      • “Video art is not only single-channel videotapes create for gallery and/or broadcast.  It also has its expanded forms: sculpture and installation pieces that egnage multi-meida and formal issues within gallery spaces.”
      • “The expanded forms of video art open up to the medium and address a set of issues and questions intrinsic to our understanding of its creative use.  This work reexamines the basic ontology of video, the distinctions between it and television, and the intertextual nature of the medium.  The work of Nam June Paik described how felxible video is both in terms of its technology and in terms of how we can conceptualize with it.  In these projects a whole series of issues is raise around the relationship of the image (the monitor’s screen), to the monitor (televison set).  Both the screen and its container are taken as integral elements in a whole: that whole reshapes the medium into a plastic form that suggests the full experience of the medium.”
    • Transcending Video – Nam June Paik’s Message – Lee U-fan
      • “When we think of Paik, we are at once reminded of his good friend, Joseph Beuys.”
      • “… video is different from the conventional, static, logos-like media of art and is more pathos-like, live and overflowing.”
      • “Video is a catalyst that fosters a supreme value to video”
      • “Each time I see Paik I become ashamed of my own mundane appearance.  When he looks at me quizzically and grinning mischievously, I really do not know what to do with myself.  Compared with this man who looks dignified and philosophical in spite of his beggar-like appearance, and who seems to have nothing more to lose, I myself, dressed neatly in a businessman’s clothes and conscious of those around me, am most encumbered, possessing too many unnecessary things. I hope I can follow Paik’s example and someday become an artist who has transcended all mundane affairs.”
    • Some Thoughts on Nam June Paik and His Work – Itsuo Sakane
      • A crooked necktie and rather slovenly dress.  Casually wearing a stomach band over a white shirt, Paik isn’t at all particular about this personal appearance.  However when you start to listent to him talk, you realize that this attitude of his has been useful in humanizing the contemporary technological media which are so cold and polished.”

Box/Folder: 0003/X – Installation diagrams by Shibuya Abe (c. 1996)

art media

Paik 1980 Video Viewpoints Lecture (MoMA)

  • “The first electronic art was electronic music”
  • Cage came to an electronic music concert and said it is as dead as a doornail
  • Playable in 3 secs or 3 hours – not a definite retrieval time
art media

Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Sakamoto, Interview (1984)

Moorman interview:

art media

Paik – Goethe Award Speech (1997)

Wolf Hasselrod – expert in media art – Fluxus – Director of Bremen Kunsthaus – Documenta 6, Documenta 8

  • “The most important however remains the synchronous, as it most purely reflects what is within us, as we reflect it” – Goethe
  • “The sensibility of a musician and a visual artist, here combined with the intellect and rationality of a scientist”
  • “The deference of the anarchist with the smile of the buddha”
  • “Knowledge of technics with rejection of the seemingly natural rules of technology”
  • “The serenity of the oriental and the perfectionism and surplus of optical impressions of the West.  The silence of the former and the which the later feels for intellectual evidence”
  • NJP famous tie-cutting of Cage – ends the concert by calling a telephone in the theatre from outside to say, “The concert is over”
  • Opera Sextronique – 1967 – after 30 years we have the discussion of whether a woman should play in Vienna philharmonic
  • Interview Calvin Thomkins – made english subtitles on the television
  • Sept 1996 – TV Culture – “It is better to be a pessimist reality, than a hypocritical confusionist”
  • Violence on TV – 1950-1990 – “Very healthy check up for humanity.  TV news teams must get nobel prise”
  • Kurnig and Munster – sculpture show – “The new forms of organised crime.
    • 24 cars – 1924 to ’90s – “the real car has become a model, and illustration of a car culture”
  • Theatre for a poor man:  “Call a cab, sit down, order a long ride, look to the taximeter” (1960s)
  • “Bill Clinton stole my electronic superhighway” – NJP
  • The First Accident of the New Millenium (Whitney)
  • Schpligel – The new name space for the Internet
  • Artist, Friend, Teacher

Nam June Paik

  • “Thank you… everyone is hungry… let’s go eat.”
media readings

MIT Nam June Paik Interview – Fred Barzyk & David Atwood

Boston TV Discussion

  • TV Moon
  • Pieces of the synthesizer –
  • Small cameras and televisions –
  • Green frog – toy plastic frog – adding and subtracting cable (2 deg per foot correction
  • “To make with a synthesizer is one thing, but to make broadcast ready is another thing…” – NJP
  • “Interesting color that is beyond NTSC standard
  • “The engineers won’t talk to me – because if I’m too dumb they don’t respect me, and if I’m too smart they’ll be afraid of me” – Fred Barzyk paraphrasing NJP

Cincinnati Fabrication – Carl Solway Gallery  (1980)

  • Storage and construction
  • “Video Flag” – Flag X, Flag Y, Flag Z – fabrication factory – 64 television (iChing)
  • K456 – The first 21st Century Disaster
    • Nam June Paik biographical work – recreating his family – monther, father, grandmother, grandfather
    • High-tech children – 9 children
    • When sold – they were sold as pairs (the placement of the pieces needed to maintain the families – “We didn’t want to break up the family… It’s not the way of the world”
    • Father Mother – Japan / Aunt Uncle – Europe / Grandmother Grandfather – USA
    • Children dispersed all over the world “They don’t have any nationality, they’re the children of the world”
      • “Hippy Child” – painted piece of cabinetry
  • Groups of pieces about his real family – grandparents,
  • Groups of pieces about his artistic famliy – Beuys, Moorman, Ginsberg
  • Groups of pieces about his technology family – Abe, Marconi, Faraday, Edison, Kepler, Newton, Ampere
art media

Interview 4 Peoples – no. 511 (c. late 1970s)


  • Interviewer – “Perhaps even the notion of quality will eventually become obsolete… Do you feel any responsibility?”
    • Kaprow:  “I don’t see it as more than a false problem – it’s a pseudo problem.  Since problems of valuation… once they are framed in real situations – confranted by real problems of whether this or that act is of value to somebody.”
    • “What happens to almost any novelty in the arts, is that it’s quickly followed by pundits… Everybody rushes to try to clarify… It’s almost instantaneous now that what’s new hat today is old hat next week.  That quickly things are laid to rest and given a place.
    • “So I wasn’t terribly much concerned with the lack of value or the lack of clarity or the lack of discrimination.  I was concerned with fomenting a situation in which there would be the most prolonged confusion possible… where for a little while suspension of this awful game called ‘giving mark’s’ could take place.”
  • Interviewer – “What has happened to the quality of art in the meantime?”
    • “Well it continues to be really good, and mostly uninteresting.”
  • Interviewer – “What i’m saying is that you’ve got to have a limit to what is art – or there is no art”
    • “I don’t care whether its art or not – that’s the big point.  I do feel a responsibility but not for art.”


  • The repercussions of Happenings gave Chicago radicalism a feeling that “Ordinary life is a theatrical effort”
  • AG quoting Abbie Hoffman – “We have the right to shout theatre at a crowded fire!”:
  • Carlos Williams’ poetry – sensory data – lose something of the artistry – it becomes unartistic
  • Howl – “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”
  • Karmic misunderstanding that was wrought by my own poetry
  • “no ideas but in things” – Williams
  • “the first thought that hits the mind when looking at an object”
  • “The 80s will be boring”

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Episode 1

  • “Love and Power” – Ayn Rand

Episode 2

  • Internet Utopianism to Global Economics to Ecosystems – balance and stabilisation without authoritariannism
  • This is “the dream of the machines – it reflects how they are organised – it has nothing to do with nature…”
  • The dream of the self organising system – machine fantasies of nature
  • London at the Height of the British Empire
    • Arthur Tansley – natives / wife – Sigmund Freud – 1922
    • Freud’s brain as a circuit –
    • Applying the model of the mind – to the whole of nature – energy flows
    • “Ecosystem”
    • Peder Anker – Historian of Ecology – “very mechanical indeed”
    • The Great Universal Law of Equilibrium – constant tendency towards balance and equilibrium
    • Scientific basis to the ‘underlying mechanism that regulates nature as if it were a machine’
  • Jay Forester – Systems Theorists
    • early warning system – radar installation – Cold War
    • feedback – “we live in these networks of feedback loops, that are controlling us and the things we interact with”
    • Norbert Weiner
    • Fred Turner – cybernetic theorists
    • Glympse of the deep cybernetic truth – that machine and man are linked
    • Cybernetics leads ecology into being the dominant science of the 20th century.
  • Howard & Eugune Odum… 
    • circuits of energy
    • real electrical circuits to adjust the environments
    • Peter J Taylor – Historian of Science
    • Oversimplification of circuit models
  • Fuller
    • Deemphasis of the human being – the welfare of the system
  • Ecotechnics – Randall Gibson – Synergia – man machine biological system working in combination
  • Stuart Brand
  • Richard Brautigan – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – “people pass computers as if they were spinning 
  • Jay Forrester and the Club of Rome – advising the group to model the world as a system
  • Alexander King – The Club of Rome – world a system – The Limits to GrowthWhat was in it
  • Holism – General Smutz – the whole world was a system – disappearing nations and having the
  • The abuse of vegetational concepts
  • Tod Bjork – Environmental Activist – claim nature has a balance, and that society needs to follow this balance
  • Gaia, internet utopia, web of life, running the planet as a single system
  • Enlightenment ideals of independence were under threat
  • Dr. Stewart Pickett – no stable patterns – offended the comfortable idea that nature is stable
  • Dr. Daniel Botkin – wolves + moose – found no steady states
  • Van Dyne – models of ecosystems – no steady state is ever reached – chaotic instability of nature
media readings

a list of people who call themselves theorists (idea aestheticians)


Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth

Ep2 – The Message of Myth

  • “Old testament god with a lot of rules and no mercy”
  • Eisenhower – “Is there a god” – NOW THERE IS
  • “all things speak of god” – inside computers is a hierarchy of angels
  • Is the machine becoming a myth? 
    • The forms of the tools
    • The new powers are being surprisingly announced to us by what the machines can do
    • We can’t have a mythology for a long time to come
    • The individual has to find the aspect of myth that has to do with the conduct of his life
  • No Indra before you..