Nam June Paik in my eyes in one of the first video artists. Being born in South- Korea, he originally studied in music and was considered a child prodigy. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Paik then moved to Germany to study the history of music at Munich University. It was while in Germany that changed his complete perspective on music. He met the one and only John Cage, which inspired him to work in the felid of electronic art.

Paik began participation in the Neo-Dada art movement known as Fluxus. His big debut came at an exhibition known as Exposition if Music-Electronic Television, which used magnet to alter and distort their images. Paik then moved to New York and began working with physical instruments and clothes. He combined with cellist Charlotte Moorman, incorporating video monitors into her cello while she played. He also created a TV bra, which combined two mini monitors in the bra.


It wasn’t till 1965, when Paik received his first Portapak. Sony introduced the Portapak, which could both move and record things, for it was the first portable video and audio recorder. From there, Paik became an international celebrity, known for his creative and entertaining works.

Paik’s major piece came in 1995, when he put up a permanent display at the Lincoln Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Paik’s piece, entitled Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii. It offers up his commentary about an American culture obsessed with television, the moving image, and bright shiny things.


“Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii” (1995), Nam June Paik. 49-channel closed circuit video installation, neon, steel, and electronic components; approx. 15 x 40 x 4 ft. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.


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