Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik was born in Seoul, Korea on July 20, 1932. He was the fifth and
youngest child of a textile merchant. In 1947, at the age of 14, he studied
piano and composition with two of Korea\'s foremost composers. The family moved
to Tokyo, Japan in 1950 to avoid the havoc of the Korean War. Paik studied
music, history, art history, and philosophy at the University of Tokyo from 1953
to 1956. He did his graduate dissertation on Schoenberg. In 1956, he moved to

Germany to pursue his interest in avant-garde music. He studied music history
under Thrasybulos Georgiades at the University of Munich and composition under

Wolfgang Fortner at the Hochschule fűr Musik. He also attended classes
under Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, David Tudor, and John Cage. Paik lived
in Cologne for the next five years and then returned to Japan for a short time
to conduct experiments with electromagnets and color TV sets. In 1964, Paik
moved to New York and still resides there today. While he lived in Korea, Paik
had become familiar with the work of Schoenberg. Paik was interested in

Schoenberg above all others because of his radical compositions. They reflected
the social atmosphere of Seoul at the time. In 1947, Paik had only one piece of

Schoenberg’s work. It took Paik two years to convince a record shop owner to
let him listen to what was probably the only Schoenberg record in Korea. Paik
had only two compositions by which to judge his "guru." Then one day in

Japan, in 1951, Paik heard a third piece on NHK Radio. Another of Paik’s great
influences was John Cage, whom he met in Germany. Meeting Cage, a student of

Schoenberg, was a turning point in Paik’s life. Paik’s piece Zen for Film
was definitely influenced by Cage’s 4’ 33", the silent piece. Cage was
devoted to sounds, but Paik was devoted to objects, yet Cage’s influence is
evident in all of Paik’s work. Joseph Beuys, like Cage, played an important
role in influencing the direction of Paik’s video work. Paik’s portraits of

Beuys constitute a significant body of work. They are more than a homage to

Beuys, they are an affirmation of video as a new sensorium that expands the
fleeting image on the television. As Paik’s education was furthered, he became
a key in Fluxus art. In 1961, he met Fluxus founder George Maciunas, which began
his participation in Fluxus concerts. The visual characteristics of Paik’s
concerts gained significance equal to that of the music with his one man show

Exposition of Music—Electronic Television in 1963. It included the skull of an
ox, 13 pianos, 13 television sets, a mannequin, and several sound producing
objects. Upon his return to Japan in 1963, he found that he could manipulate the
television screens with magnets. He began to conduct experiments with the help
of an electronics engineer, Shuya Abe. These experiments were the groundwork for

Participation TV, an active viewer piece. Abe also assisted Paik in the
production of Robot K-456. In 1965, Paik bought one of the first Sony video
recorders sold and began to create video art. Works such as Zen for Film and

Global Groove were the results of Paik’s newfound medium. In 1970, Paik and

Abe invented a video synthesizer, which made it possible to manipulate colors,
shapes, and movement sequences on videotapes and television programs. Paik has
been given the title of "Father of Video Art," as he was the first to use
video and television as a viable medium. The Opera Sextronique was one of

Paik’s "happenings" with Charlotte Moorman, the cellist. It included

Moorman wearing a battery powered bra with televisions covering her nipples, and
the Young Penis Symphony, consisting ten young men sticking their penises
through a paper curtain in time to the music. Opera Sextronique was one of

Paik’s attempts to integrate sex into his work. Paik once told Manfred Eichel
that "The five principles of media are: Sex, Violence, Greed, Vanity and

Deception." Paik used these principles heavily in his earliest works, thus the
concept of the Opera Sextronique. In the Opera for one act, Moorman was to
perform topless; however the performance was interrupted by police, and resulted
in the arrest of Moorman and Paik. The resulting trial was a damper on his"sex into musical performance" campaign. Global Groove is a video piece with
surreal visuals and neo-Dada ideas. Paik manipulates multicultural elements,
art-world figures, and pop iconography. He appropriates Pepsi commercials and
integrates them with images of contemporary performers such as John Cage, Merce

Cunningham, and the Living Theatre Dancers. He synthesizes images