Events Around the World

Nam June Paik: Music is Not Sound

Exhibition / United States
September 11, 2019 - October 20, 2019
  James Cohan - Lower East Side
291 Grand Street | New York City  

The centerpiece of the exhibition is ACC alumnus Nam June Paik's Main Channel Matrix, 1993-1996, a monumental videowall composed of 65 television sets that play Paik’s seminal 1973 video broadcast Global Groove on continuous, splicing loop. With this work, Paik combined compositional design and video imagery to create a radical manifesto on the nature of global communication in a media saturated world. The notion of using multiple television monitors stacked within a structural framework to display information has long been a trade show marketing tool. Paik reimagined the commercial videowall for electric, expressive purpose, deploying a pastiche of sound and image to create a moving mural, composed of hundreds of discrete images, that subverted the standard language of television. Japanese Pepsi commercials are intercut with performances by avant-garde artists Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Allen Ginsberg and the Living Theater; dancers shimmying in a colorized space to Mitch Ryder's Devil with a Blue Dress On are juxtaposed with traditional Korean dancers. Charlotte Moorman, Paik’s longtime collaborator, plays the TV Cello; and they play the TV Bra for Living Sculpture. Richard Nixon’s face, magnetically distorted, appears and disappears.

Commonly hailed as the father of video art, Nam June Paik saw the latent artistic potential in the glow of the television set sitting in every American’s living room. Paik, who died in 2006 at the age of 73, left behind a groundbreaking body of work that synthesized music, video, performance, television broadcast and technological experimentation to profoundly alter our understanding of the electronic image. With a prolific output that included manipulated TV sets, video wall installations, live performances, single-channel videos, and global television broadcasts, Paik balanced a Utopian philosophy with a technical pragmatism and subversive sense of humor, creating artworks that drew on chance encounters between ideas, the object and the public.

Grantee: Paik Nam June

Website: https://www.jamescohan.com/exhibitions/nam-june-paik4?view=slider#3