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The Light and Sound Machine Presents... NAM JUNE PAIK: I MAKE TECHNOLOGY RIDICULOUS

Posted by Third Man on 6 May 2013

NAM JUNE PAIK: I MAKE TECHNOLOGY RIDICULOUS 

MAY 16th - 7pm / Purchase Tickets here.

It’s hard to imagine a 20th century artist who more accurately predicted the 21st century media and information landscape than Nam June Paik. Even Warhol, in his depiction of a celebrity obsessed monoculture, focused merely on a potential destination of a media-saturated society while Paik foresaw the “electronic superhighway” that would take us there.

Paik is best known as a formative member of the Fluxus art movement in the 1960’s and as a pioneer in the field of video art. His elaborate sculptures, often composed of dozens of cathode-ray screens, can be found in prominent collections worldwide, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul (home of Paik’s The More the Better - a 60ft tower which displays video on 1,003 monitors.)

On several occasions, Paik worked in the very medium from which he took inspiration, via New York’s beloved WNET channel Thirteen. Through it’s groundbreaking TV Lab program, Thirteen/WNET facilitated production and exhibition for the earliest generation of video artists. Cutting edge works by trailblazers like Ed Emshwiller, Bill Viola, and Douglas Davis were available to anyone in the New York area with a television. NAM JUNE PAIK: I MAKE TECHNOLOGY RIDICULOUS highlights three of the artist’s seminal TV Lab contributions, serving not only as an overview of Paik‘s creative vision, but also as a testament to the potential of quality public television. The Light & Sound Machine dedicates this program to Thirteen/WNET, which celebrates it’s 50th year of broadcast in 2013.

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EDITED FOR TELEVISION, d. Calvin Tompkins & Russell Connor, 1975, 28min

Produced for public television station WNET/Thirteen in New York, Nam June Paik: Edited for Television is a provocative portrait of the artist, his work and philosophies. This fascinating document features an interview of Paik by art critic Calvin Tompkins (who wrote a New Yorker profile of the artist in 1975) and ironic commentary by host Russell Connor. Taped in his Soho loft, with the multi-monitor piece Fish Flies on Sky suspended from the ceiling, Paik elliptically addresses his art and philosophies in the context of Dada, Fluxus, the Zen Koan, John Cage, Minimal art, information overload and technology. "I am a poor man from a poor country, so I have to entertain people every second," states Paik. Excerpts from his works include Suite 212 and Electronic Opera Nos. 1 and 2; Charlotte Moorman performing TV Bra for Living Sculpture, and Moorman and Paik performing excerpts from Cage's 26'1.1499" for String Player in 1965. On a guided tour of his loft, Paik discusses the prototype of the Paik-Abe Synthesizer and demonstrates his early altered television sets and video sculptures. - Electronic Arts Intermix

SUITE 212, d. Merrily Mossman, 1975/1977, 30min
Suite 212 is Paik's "personal New York sketchbook," an electronic collage that presents multiple perspectives of New York's media landscape as a fragmented tour of the city. Opening with the 1972 work The Selling of New York, a series of short segments designed for WNET's late-night television schedule, Paik critiques the selling of New York by multinational corporations and the city's role as the master of the media and information industries. Russell Connor is the ubiquitous television announcer whose droning statistical information on New York is ridiculed by a series of "average" New Yorkers; a burglar steals the TV set on which we see his talking head. Intercut throughout this comic scenario are appropriated Japanese TV commercials of American products. At the core of Suite 212 is a series of short collaborative pieces that form an accelerated, vibrant romp through New York neighborhoods. Street interviews with Douglas Davis' neighbors, Jud Yalkut's rendering of a Chinatown noodle shop and a colorized walk along the bridge to Ward's Island, and Paik and Shigeko Kubota's hallucinatory tour of the Lower East Side with Allen Ginsberg are among the segments in this dizzying time capsule of New York in the 1970s. - Electronic Arts Intermix

GUADALCANAL REQUIEM, d. Nam June Paik, 1977, 29min
One of Paik's most overtly political and poignant statements, Guadalcanal Requiem is a performance/documentary collage that confronts history, time, cultural memory and mythology on the site of one of World War II's most devastating battles. Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands is the iconic setting upon which Paik inscribes symbolic gestures and performances. Scenes of Charlotte Moorman performing with her cello, interviews with American and Japanese veterans and Solomon Islanders, and archival footage of the battle are juxtaposed, synthesized, layered, colorized and otherwise electronically manipulated. The imagery is haunting and often surreal: Charlotte Moorman crawls along the beach in a G.I. uniform with a cello strapped to her back, plays a Beuys felt cello, and performs while concealed in a body bag. The subtext of this extraordinary collage is Paik's assertion that global conflict arises as a result of cultural miscommunication. - Electronic Arts Intermix

Tickets available for Belcourt members at a discount for $8 via the Belcourt website.

All member and non-member tickets purchased online will be available via will call, day-of-film, at Third Man beginning at 6pm. TICKETS WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR BEFORE THE SHOW!