Nam June Paik is an innovative Korean artist who creates artistic potential in using television and how it can be used for complex artistic purposes. Paik used TV in his artworks as an influential social icon and as objects in his works. He is an artist who delves into studying electronics and engineering, which can be seen in his work “Participation TV”. Paik is very familiar with TV’s from his previous experiences with an electronic music studio and creating new ways to use them in artwork. The use of a TV in most of his art, is used as a form of medium, creating innovative digital artworks and video art.
Paik’s artwork “Participation TV” was presented in a number of exhibitions, a first being at the ‘New School for Social Research’ in the United States 1965. A second being at the ‘Howard Wise Gallery’, New York in 1969. His artworks with the use of TV, including “Participation TV“, “Buddha TV” and “Magnet TV” have become very well known through a various amount of exhibitions and exploring the use of TV further than just using it as an object that we sit and watch video on. Below is an image of this artwork being put into use.
Paik’s “Participation TV” (1963-1966) artwork is one of his most well known works, impacting on media culture we use and learn from today, and transforming TV into an artistic inventive medium. A postmodernist piece, which reflects the concepts and ideas in art from that period of time. Postmodern art does tend to oppose modern arts ideas and concepts. Postmodernism was a period where artists focused their art around different types of media, such as; installation art, conceptual art and even more so multimedia. Multimedia in postmodern art usually involved the use of incorporating video – which is the main object used in Paik’s work. Paik believes TV is more than just a form of communication but an influential digital device in the 20th century. Through video being used in artworks, we progress with technology and have more understanding with technologies functions and uses. Postmodern art challenges new ways of thinking and new ideas in art. This can be seen in Paik’s inventive artwork using sound and video, turning it into an interactive piece.
This artwork mainly consists of using a television as the main object, a microphone and a participator. The microphone in this piece is used as an input to change the television signal. The two microphones that are used, controls these lines we see on the TV. A couple of television sets were placed in his artwork as a visual aid. This is an interactive artwork, using a participating audience, hence the works name, “Participation TV”. The audience turns into an active user rather than a passive user of media – this can also be seen as technological convergence. The audience becomes part of the artwork, bringing technology and people together, dissolving a barrier between technology and people. This artwork receives acoustic signals via microphone which is connected to the TV. The main TV used, displays a vibrant and colourful bunch of lines and they sporadically move about as soon as there is sound going through the microphone. Depending on how loud or soft the sound through the microphone is, the lines will adjust accordingly. If there is a loud yelling sound, the signal through the sound-frequency amplifier is increased, and the lines will create a unique and sporadic formation. The colourful lines on the TV will rapidly change formation and shape, sometimes making the lines appear 3-dimensional. The opposite effect will occur if a soft, whisper sound is made. The lines on the TV will be less harsh and not so erratic. The work interprets vocal sounds as video signals. The more the voice wavers in sound, the more the lines on the tv screen will waver around to mimic it.
Paik challenges us as a media audience to look at how we use TV differently. We are able to manipulate technology and create it into something innovative. Nam June Paik has created new ideas on how we can use technology and the procedures we can take to interpret these ideas or come up with our own.
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