♪♪ [ Rainfall ] [ Soft music plays ] ♪♪ [ Electronic screeching ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ ♪ Ha ha ha-ha-ha ha-ha ♪ Ha ha ha-ha-ha ha-ha.
♪ Ha-ha ha ha-ha-ha ha-ha ♪ ♪ Ha ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha ♪ ♪ Ha ha haaaaa ♪ -[ Clearing throat ] -Korean Nam June Paik is regarded as the foremost video artist in the world.
-Il s'appelle Nam June Paik.
-[ Speaking native language ] -[ Speaking native language ] Nam June Paik.
-[ Speaking native language ] -Today I thought we could talk about someone who's widely regarded as the father of video art.
-Nam June Paik, avant-garde musician, self-taught engineer.
-The Nostradamus of the digital age.
-He envisioned the Internet.
-See where all of this was gotten.
-[ Speaking native language ] -Although he once said, "I use technology in order to hate it properly."
[ Indistinct conversations ] -...for NBC News, Chicago.
[ Clatter ] [ Flames roaring ] ♪♪ -You have the reputation as a cultural terrorist.
♪♪ -There's no major art museum in the world that hasn't shown Nam June's work.
The Whitney, the Modern, the Guggenheim, Centre Pompidou, the Tate.
They've all shown Nam June's work because he's Nam June Paik.
-[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -I sort of analysize him to Ben Franklin and the makers of the Constitution.
-[ Speaking Korean ] ♪♪ [ Speaking Korean ] -One of the most deeply informed and extraordinary intellectuals of our time.
♪♪ -He has a PhD in pre-Renaissance music.
[ Dissonant music plays ] ♪♪ He could have been a concert pianist.
-[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Horn honks ] -He has a PhD in Hegel in philosophy.
♪♪ -You're going to start off talking over my head.
Is that what you're gonna do?
-Nam June never answers the question.
He takes an oblique approach.
-He speaks about 20 languages.
Do you know that?
All extremely badly.
-[ Laughing ] -He's the what?
-He spoke English... -[ Speaking English ] -...he spoke German, he spoke Korean... -Japanese, Chinese... -Italian, a little bit... -Spanish... -...French... -Paikish.
-People would always say Nam June speaks so many languages, but I don't understand what he's saying.
[ Laughs ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Laughs ] [ Speaking English ] -At first, when I didn't really know him, and he often spoke in a broken English, I had a hard time understanding him.
And until I learned how to listen to him, it was hard to hear him.
-[ Sniffles ] -Normally, you work on an artist, and after some time, you're done with it.
But Nam June keeps me busy all my life, because again and again, I would say, "Oh, had I known then, and now I understand."
[ Soft music plays ] [ Rainfall ] [ Electronic screech ] ♪♪ -"It's the artist's job to think about the future."
[ Static ] ♪♪ "Although I'm an artist, I'm not really concerned about so-said artwork."
♪♪ "I'm concerned to whole world."
♪♪ "I was born in Korea, and I've been away from my country for most of my life now."
♪♪ "So every day for me is a communication problem."
♪♪ "My problem is how to communicate better."
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Electronic screech ] -I think a lot of your activities now go back to the activities that were going on in Germany when you were a music student.
-And we're studying in -- in Munich, was it, or... -Yeah, yeah.
♪♪ ♪♪ -"I arrived in Munich, November 23, 1956."
[ Bell tolling ] "I lived only one year in Munich, out of my total residency of seven years in Germany.
But Munich is a scene which still haunts me most.
Then I was 24 or so.
Finally, I moved to music school."
[ Wind whistling ] "It was a dark, cloudy day after dark, cloudy day.
I repeated in my lips, 'Dunkle Sehnsucht, dunkle Sehnsucht.'
What saved me from total depression was the snowfall at English Garden.
I thought I may give two years to try to be full-time composer."
[ Wind whistling ] "It was like jumping out of cliff."
[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Piano plays slow music ] ♪♪ ♪♪ "I wanted to be a composer for a long time.
In my life, discovering the composer Arnold Schoenberg was the first revolution."
♪♪ "It was a miracle I discovered him in Korea."
[ Needle scratches record ] "He immediately interested me because he was written as the devil, or the most extreme avant-garde."
♪♪ "Inside the cultural desert of wartime..." [ Sirens blaring ] "...there was a yearning for everything new."
♪♪ "A radical attitude, 'day after tomorrow,' you know?"
♪♪ "I followed Schoenberg's most radical line to Germany."
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] [ Birds calling ] ♪♪ -"In my grade-school years, 1939 to '45..." -[ Speaking Korean ] -...in Japanese-occupied Korea.
We grade-school students talked to each other in Korean at home.
But no sooner did we go out from our house gate, then it turns into Japanese.
Otherwise, a policeman can stop us and pick us up."
♪♪ "Before we went home, we had a regular meeting of repentance, in which our teacher questions us as to who spoke Korean today."
[ Children speaking indistinctly ] -[ Speaking Japanese ] ♪♪ -"When you count in a foreign language, you have to concentrate so hard, you don't have time to think about yourself."
-[ Speaking Japanese ] ♪♪ -"As a student from underdeveloped Korea, I did not have any hope or illusion of making a career, positive or negative, in Germany.
I had thought that a few geniuses were fallen from the heaven by some unseen creator, and they should be either German or French.
But then it was in 1958.
There was John Cage and David Tudor in Germany."
♪♪ "And I had a chance to go to his concert that night, and there was something weird happening."
-[ Speaking German ] -John Cage was sort of the polarizing artist of his time.
Cage challenged Western art by adopting techniques from Zen Buddhism, where he would throw the coins for the I-Ching to create his compositions and leave the work to chance.
-[ Speaking English ] [ Metal tapping ] [ Speaking English ] [ Metal scraping ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Tapping ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Electronic screeching ] [ Piano pounding ] [ Rubber duck squeaks ] [ Horn honks ] -After Cage opened the door, Paik just soared with it.
♪♪ -[ Speaking Korean ] -John Cage and Nam June -- they became lifelong friends.
-[ Speaking English ] [ Chuckles ] [ Speaking Korean ] [ Speaking Korean ] -The sort of general Cage philosophy is freedom.
It's basically in one word.
Freedom to be -- to make the art you want with what you want, in the ways that you want.
Art can look a lot different than we were used to.
[ Indistinct conversations, laughter ] -[ Speaking English ] [ Laughter and applause ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Laughter ] -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] John Cage and Stockhausen -- -Your descriptions of your etude for pianoforte... -Yeah?
-...where you, uh -- where You demolished a piano onstage and then leaped down into the audience and slashed John Cage's necktie with scissors and then shampooed his hair with soap.
And then you ran out of the auditorium... -[ Chuckling ] Yeah.
-And we sat absolutely dumb like -- like bad children for, uh, I think for almost half an hour in utter silence.
And finally the telephone rang, and Mary Bauermeister went to the telephone.
And then she turned to the audience and she said, "It's Paik calling to say that the performance is concluded."
[ Laughs ] [ Laughter ] It was really amazing.
But I must say that it's it's more entertaining to recall than it was to be present at.
-[ Chuckles ] -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking Korean ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking German ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -Until then, no international movement included Asian art.
♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Chuckles ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking German ] [ Laughter ] [ Speaking German ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Speaking English ] [ Light laughter ] -We all got to know him as -- as a poor man from a poor country.
How many times I heard him say that?
I mean, I don't think many people knew that he came from a privileged youth.
He didn't talk about that a lot.
And this was very important for his political awakening.
He saw that all ripped away from him.
♪♪ [ Speaking Korean ] [ Light laughter ] -Our family was one of the wealthiest families, you know, of those days.
♪♪ [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -"My father was a businessman and had this obsession to raise money."
♪♪ We were really one of the most corrupted families in Korea."
♪♪ "My leftist tendencies were fortified by the plight of my aunt's family.
My father had to take care of the seven members of my family.
My aunt worked as a kind of head maid in our home."
♪♪ "My father treated them all so badly that my Oedipus complex started there."
♪♪ "I loathed being his son.
I became a revolutionary."
[ Indistinct shouting ] "Subconsciously, you always compete with your father.
-I became a Marxist, a 13-year-old Communist."
[ Indistinct conversations ] "It was dangerous to be a Communist then."
♪♪ [ Gunfire, indistinct shouting ] [ Siren wails ] "This reflects the social atmosphere of Seoul, which was like a tinderbox before an explosion."
[ Siren wails ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Siren wails ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -"Communist forces attacked the Republic of Korea.
This attack has made it clear beyond all."
[ Explosion ] ♪♪ -"Korean War -- single factor that decided my life, absolutely."
[ Siren wails ] ♪♪ [ Piano plays dissonantly ] "History will repeat itself if we don't plan the future carefully."
♪♪ -[ Speaking Korean on radio ] ♪♪ -:Most people don't know that Hitler made the radio with no dials."
-[ Speaking German on radio ] -"One day, I woke up late and decided that if I were going to do a show, I want to make it very radical and new.
I wanted to carve out a different path.
I thought TV would replace the radio.
I thought it would be coming.
So I bought a TV and opened up the back."
[ Static ] ♪♪ "Then and there, I was inspired to do TV art."
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -The television used to be described as a window onto the world.
But who was creating that world?
And what was the world that was coming onto the television set?
It wasn't the avant-garde.
Around that time, Nam June was given the opportunity to have his first one-artist exhibition.
Rolf Jahrling -- he just opened his doors to Nam June.
He said, "Do something, anything."
-[ Speaking German ] -"To start electronics from basic full-time job."
-[ Speaking German ] [ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ -The exhibition at the Galerie Parnass was the first time that an artist brought the television fully into an art exhibition.
-[ Speaking German ] ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Speaking German ] -He prepared the television to become something other than a simply passive transmitter into one's life.
♪♪ -[ Speaking German ] ♪♪ [ Speaking German ] ♪♪ [ Birds chirping ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking German ] [ Chickens clucking ] -[ Speaking English ] "Invitation very urgent."
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -Why?
New York City was home to the broadcast television.
It was the communications capital of the planet.
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -[ Orchestra plays up-tempo music ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] -When Paik came to live here in 1964, it wasn't easy, because he had 16 television sets, chained together, and he had two robots.
[ "Rhapsody in Blue" plays ] -There was quite a mystique about Paik before he arrived in this country.
He had a reputation for violence.
[ Audience gasps ] So we were sure this monster was going to appear.
And he turned out to be this shy, quiet guy, and I think surprised everybody who hadn't met him.
-[ Speaking English ] -[ Laughs ] ♪♪ -When he came, he entered the downtown avant-garde art scene.
♪♪ John Cage... George Maciunas... -Ginsberg... -Merce Cunningham... -And of course, Charlotte Moorman.
♪♪ -I had started a Festival of the Avant Garde.
The avant-garde grapevine was such that Nam June Paik, I met.
And he went, "Oh, I make pieces for you."
He says, "Oh, I always dreamed of having classical musician who would strip."
I don't know why he thought I would do this.
♪♪ I'm looking at him, and I'm thinking, like, "Who needs you?"
But I was so fascinated with him that I ended up agreeing.
[ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ ♪♪ And at that meeting, we became partners.
All this whole, um, experience started then.
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -Hi.
Oh, no, this is very serious.
They're so, big, Paik.
I'm not an airplane.
[ Laughter ] Seriously.
No, no, I'm telling you, if I put the cello here... -[ Speaking English ] [ Notes plinking ] -We've been having a lot of fun breaking the rules together.
Paik was always making something new.
So -- So unexpected.
♪♪ He premiered the robot that year.
♪♪ Oh, it's a marvelous mechanical man.
Well, actually, it's had breasts and a penis, and it walked and it talked and it [bleep] little white beans.
It was hilarious.
The New York Times and the News -- the papers sent their music critics to review Nam June Paik and the robot and me, and they didn't quite know what to do with us.
In fact, Howard Klein gave us our worst review we've ever had.
♪♪ so it was a good review.
You should read it.
It says we're talentless, uh, about the worst thing he had ever seen up to that point.
[ Horn honks ] -[ Speaking English ] -Robot K-456 -- it's not the sci-fi robot, all slick and so forth, but you could see how it was made when you saw it.
He didn't want it hidden behind a facade.
He wanted to show you that the technology was being controlled.
-[As JFK] ...will light our country and all who serve it.
-And the robot would walk up and it would -- it had the speech then of John Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the country.
And -- And I thought it was bad taste because Kennedy had just been assassinated.
But Paik would not change the tape.
-...so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."
[ Cheers and applause ] -[ Speaking native language ] [ Speaking English ] -...what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
[ Cheers and applause ] -[ Speaking Vietnamese ] -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[ Speaking Korean ] -[ Speaking Korean ] ♪♪ -"If I had been loyal to my Marxist ideology..." [ Marching band plays ] ♪♪ "...I would have died in Korea in 1951."
♪♪ "Two boys from my Communist circle went to North Korea, as did my composition teacher.
I've never heard from them."
[ Indistinct shouting ] [ Radio tuning ] ♪♪ "Television is a dictatorial medium, like a one-way parachute.
When the superiors say something to the inferior, they can just listen and answer 'yes.'"
♪♪ "The way of answering could be more interactive.
I think talking back is what democracy means."
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Nam June's ideas that he was exploring at the Galerie Parnass show, he began to push it further, and you begin to see how he was developing new ways of participating.
-...ignore them or deny them without giving details.
I believe we've had enough of that in the United States... -Maybe the audience could finally understand.
-To me, the office of the vice Presidency of the United States is a great office.
-[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -You know, take that magnet and twist it on top and take that image and just twist it so it's no longer recognizable.
It wasn't about the beauty of abstraction.
It was an attack on the sanctity of that image, of its power, of its -- of its veracity.
-[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] -It is an evaluation made by the old visual types looking in the rear-view mirror, as usual, off something that is threatening the old values.
-[ Speaking English ] [ Static ] [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] ♪ Oooooooh ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] [ Saw whirring ] [ Speaking English ] [ Speaking English ] -[ Laughs ] He's learning his machine.
-In the mid-'60s, a prototype of this relatively inexpensive portable VTR video tape recorder appeared on the scene.
♪♪ A new generation of artists and social activists seized on it.
♪♪ -[ Speaking Korean ] -The portable technology that the PortaPack represented, it was the opportunity for individuals to actually have a voice, to give the public the opportunity to produce, if you will, their own information.
-Free ourselves, free our sisters!
Free ourselves, free our sisters!
[ Speaking Korean ] ♪♪ -It was a community of artists based around the PortaPack.
♪♪ -In terms of the art world in New York at that time, video was a nuisance.
It was not understood how they could sell such a thing or how they could display it.
-In the 1960s, there were hierarchies in the art world.
Painting was still at the apex and then maybe sculpture.
Photography was unheard-of as a fine-art practice.
Film was considered, you know, a form of entertainment.
It wasn't considered an art form yet.
And what did Nam June choose?
He chose the media of video.
♪♪ -I mean, there were a lot of big questions about its relationship to art.
And a lot of people had concluded, "I thought it was subverting the relationship between art and the institution of art."
-[ Speaking English ] You know?
-[ Chuckles ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -[ Speaking English ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -Good.
-[ Whispering in English ] -Alright.
-[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking indistinctly ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -In terms of a technological revolution, he was one of the people who really opened that door wide.
♪♪ ♪♪ Nam June and Charlotte Moorman, they work well-known even then.
♪♪ He was kind of famous.
Not -- Not world-famous.
Not even America famous.
Not even famous in New York.
But he was famous in the video community.
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Chuckling ] You know?
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Laughs ] -I don't remember it as love at first sight, but "love after a while" was, like, the way I remember it.
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Traffic passing ] [ Speaking Korean ] [ Speaking English ] [ Indistinct shouting ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Speaking English ] [ Indistinct shouting ] [ Speaking English ] [ Indistinct shouting ] -It was such a trauma.
I think it was terribly unfair for Paik when they put the number on him.
And he looked at me and he said, "I never thought it would come to this."
"Oh, he was so -- That was the saddest I've ever seen Paik.
[ Indistinct shouting ] -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -Being an artist in a medium that has no market is enough of an existential threat.
I mean, I don't know how he lived.
-[ Speaking English ] Some of them, tuna, might be left even for your next visit here and some others.
♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -He was so afraid of having to return to Korea.
♪♪ He had been very close to his mother.
♪♪ But his father disregarded him.
He gave up on him.
♪♪ And the Korean newspapers had articles about Nam June that brought shame on his whole family.
♪♪ I remember reading those descriptions as a teenager and a young college student.
♪♪ Korea at that time, it was a controlled or, uh, dictated democracy.
♪♪ The Korean government in the South was afraid of Koreans who spend time overseas imposing influence on the Koreans in Korea.
♪♪ -You know by then, though, you know, like -- like all immigrants, "Where is your home?"
You know, huh?
[ Elevator whirring ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -"Dear John, I decided that when I'm fooling around still, in my 40s, as a yellow gypsy here, you had betted on the wrong horse."
♪♪ -"Nam June, all of those pieces are all really elegant and charming.
In other words, those ideas about the future, how it can be better, and how it can involve technology in a livelier, more human way, and that's all, I would say, very profound."
♪♪ [ Typewriter keys clacking ] -"Dear J.C., your remark on TV work is one of the greatest encouragement I have ever received.
I've been thinking for the past 48 hours how to survive next 6 months.
Anyway I'm determined to stay at least 6 more months to give one more push to my electronic art.
I am fighting a war of persistence."
♪♪ "Dear New York City Arts Council..." "Dear Sony..." "Dear Bell Labs..." "Dear Rockefeller Foundation..." -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] [ Speaking German ] Amen.
[ Speaking German ] [ Speaking English ] [ Speaking German ] -[ Speaking English ] -Howard Klein directs the program in the arts for the Rockefeller Foundation.
-When I was a music critic for The New York Times, I reviewed some of Nam June's concerts, and I -- Nam June at one point told me that I had written the worst reviews that he'd ever gotten.
[ Film rewinding ] -So, it was a good review.
You should read it.
It says we're talentless, about the worst thing he had ever seen up to that point.
-I was not interested in that kind of revolutionary art.
It didn't reach me.
I didn't find it interesting or important.
However, when I saw what he was doing with television, I felt that it could have tremendous benefits to a large number of people.
[ "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" plays ] -Howard Klein became Nam June's fairy godfather.
-"Dear Howard Klein.
I enjoyed very much talking.
It was a nice feeling to have found one more friend in this..." "I would like to express my sincere and utmost gratitude for your effort.
My essay on computer and visual..." "I applied the grant for my electronic-eye energy.
It's flowing in this direction."
-Nam June wanted the ability to work with the latest technology.
-The only people who had color equipment existing for anybody to touch were television stations.
-He went to Howard Klein and was able to get funding to go to WGBH.
-"I went up to WGBH Boston.
I had only three hours of studio time, but the result was such that it dwarfed everything I did in the past."
[ Indistinct conversations ] -I can remember the first time [Chuckles] I walked in the television studio, and there was Nam June Paik, who had these rubber boots on, and he had his head and hands inside one of the TV sets.
And he looked up to me and he says, "Stand back.
Sometimes they explode."
-Okay, here we go.
Stand by for recording.
-Stand by to record.
And we're on.
-[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] We are recording.
-The WGBH engineers hated it.
I mean, their existence was to make beautiful, perfect color pictures with, you know, color cameras and whatever.
And here was all this imagery that was just, like one engineer said, "I've devoted my life to solving problems like this," [Chuckles] when he looked at the imagery.
♪♪ -♪ As the earth revolves ♪ ♪ Slipping through the passing days ♪ ♪ Then I want to go astray ♪ -It was so advanced for its time.
Nobody had ever seen imagery like that.
♪♪ -My friends...
I've always been proud to be a New Yorker, But never as proud to be a New Yorker as I am tonight.
But this is not a cry out of victory.
[ Electronic music plays ] ♪♪ -After I told Nam June that that session in the studio had cost $5,000 because of the way, you know, TV works -- you charge for everything -- he -- he was dumbfounded.
He had $15,000 left, and he said, "My God, that's only two days in the studio, and this is not working."
He says, "I have to make TV as cheap as Xerox.
I've got to make it really cheap."
So his mind started to go to work, and that's how he came up with all of his discussions with Abe and somehow building a device that would allow him to do it without any of the studio costs.
-"'Versatile Color TV Synthesizer.'
This will enable us to shape the TV screen canvas as precisely as Leonardo, as freely as Picasso, as colorfully as Renoir, as profoundly as..." -He came to us and said, "If you give me this amount of money, I'm going to go to Japan and I'm going to build a synthesizer, and then I'm going to bring it back."
And somehow we bought into that idea.
-[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -Basically, what Paik did was alchemy.
He moved the screen from being something that's plastic or concrete, and he liquefied it so that it was all malleable.
♪♪ -I mean, here is creating his own brushes, his own tools.
-[ Speaking German ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -You began to do recordings, and recordings with other artists who heard about it and wanted to come in and wanted to make imagery with it.
♪♪ -Nam June was my mentor.
Helped me get the tools I needed to make what I wanted to make.
And he got people to help me use the synthesizer.
-[ Speaking English ] -I was a student of Nam June Paik's.
He was a great teacher and mentor.
Really kind and supportive.
-I left my job, left the foreign service.
I took leave without pay, with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, that I was given, thanks to Nam June Paik.
♪♪ -I think his biggest contribution was opening the door to every artist who wants to make a mark or make a gesture.
Artists could overturn the system, inside the system.
The revolution keeps going on.
♪♪ -"TV has contributed to much of the stupidity of our decade."
-Why are women so happy about new Tickle antiperspirant?
♪♪ -I'm gonna do this magic trick without any mirrors, without any mechanical devices, and without any underwear.
-[ Speaking Japanese ] -"The average American is spending 6.5 hours daily in front of this small box."
-♪ If Nescafé can please the whole wide world ♪ -The bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.
-Me love you long time.
Me so horny.
[ Dramatic music plays ] -"Most Asian faces we encounter on the American TV screen are either miserable refugees, wretched prisoners, or hated dictators."
-In the first sequence, we take you behind enemy lines for a series of reports of the V.C.
Now, these scenes of... -"A professor in Kyoto University wrote, 'If West knows about East only one tenth of what East knows about West, there will be no war.'"
-[ Speaking Japanese ] ♪♪ "Artists must own television program."
-[ Speaking English ] -"They do something that mainline culture doesn't do."
-Alright, quiet on the set.
-Press release for immediate release.
"Global Groove," Video Artist Nam June Paik's Latest "Invasion" of the Medium, airs on WNET/13, Wednesday, January 30th, at 10:30 P.M. Jam your TV stations.
Now artists are striking back TV."
[ Theme music plays ] ♪♪ -This is a glimpse of a video landscape of tomorrow, when you will be able to switch to any TV station on the earth, and 'TV Guides' will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book.
[ Up-tempo rock 'n' roll plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -"Global Groove" is a kind of manifesto.
It's an artwork as a statement.
[ Asian music plays ] ♪♪ When he would say, "In the future, 'TV Guide' will be as thick as the Manhattan telephone book," the future that he was predicting was that every artist would be his own channel.
[ Soft music plays ] ♪♪ [ Dissonant music plays ] He wanted people not represented on broadcast television to be experienced or heard and have a voice.
[ Native American music plays ] ♪♪ -What he was always interested is to bring cultures together.
The purpose was communication.
When we know each other, there is sympathy, and we say, "Okay, fine, you do it that way, I do it this way."
So that's understanding.
That was the center of it.
[ Children singing in native language ] ♪♪ -We know the world through the colonial guise.
How would it be if we were capable of actually seeing the world from another point of view?
-Open your eyes.
[ Soft classical music plays ] ♪♪ -Something that was based so much on television may seem like a work from the past, but, actually, it's a model for the future.
-♪ Be ready to move on ♪ -Because I do have a master's degree in cello.
I went to Juilliard.
-"Global Groove" was essentially YouTube.
-But I met Nam June Paik.
-Anybody who knows me knows this story.
I am constantly telling it.
-Anybody can put material out there.
[ Bells jingling ] You can find an audience.
[ Up-tempo music plays ] -Close your eyes.
♪♪ -From the content to the fast sequencing to the synthesized images, looking back, there's no question of Nam June's influence on popular culture.
-...to manage people.
-It's pretty obvious.
-♪ 7Up, 7Up ♪ -♪ When doves fly ♪ -♪ When doves fly ♪ -♪ When doves cry ♪ -♪ Letting the days go by ♪ -♪ Let the water hold me down ♪ -♪ Letting the days go by ♪ -♪ Water... ♪ -♪ Pump it up a little more ♪ ♪ Get the party goin' on the dance floor ♪ ♪ See, 'cause that's where the party's at ♪ ♪ And you'd find out if you do that ♪ ♪ I don't want... ♪ -♪ Doo doo ♪ [ Breathing heavily ] -Thank you.
-I don't believe I did that whole thing.
-It's not the cleanest of floors.
[ Chuckles ] -More?
[ Up-tempo African music plays ] ♪♪ -"Global Groove" made me want to dance or kind of move to the images.
It gave me a lot to think about.
It was, you know, turning things upside-down on television.
♪♪ But curators and writers and the general public just thought it was weird, didn't understand it.
♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] [ Indistinct conversations in distance ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] [ Laughs ] So... Yeah.
Anyway... -What are you up to these days?
-[ Speaking English ] -Oh, you're going to Las Vegas, huh?
-Retired when I become 50.
-That's what I -- That's what I would like to do.
-Yeah, you... -And I want to go to someplace like Bolivia, though.
-[ Speaking English ] -Bolivia or Ecuador.
-[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -Oh, I should say so.
-You get the idea so quickly.
-And then you have to spend a long time making it.
It's the opposite of cooking.
-Because cooking takes a long time, and then you eat it very quickly.
-[ Chuckles ] -[ Speaking English ] Yeah, yeah.
-[ Laughs ] -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -A bunch of artists lived all together in these artist co-ops.
Nam June and Shigeko lived together at that point, and we lived next door and were on the same floor.
We had the top floor on Mercer Street.
The building, uh -- it was not in good repair.
Certainly not in the rain.
[ Thunder crashes ] -[ Speaking English ] [ Thunder rumbling ] [ Speaking English ] [ Thunder rumbling ] [ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -Video art -- it's hard.
♪♪ It's very difficult, because so many people feel that video has no place in the art world.
I fought, in my lifetime, for paintings that were avant-garde and cutting-edge and installation work and all kinds of things.
But video art has been the hardest to sell.
♪♪ -I know this about Nam June and probably for every media artist, your next project takes up all the money you've saved in your whole life up to that point, and it's a repetition of that.
So you're perpetually poor.
♪♪ -His health suffered because of his being poor for that long and having no medical help.
-[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking Japanese ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking Japanese ] ♪♪ -Earl and I were their wedding witnesses.
It was a secret wedding.
We really were asked not to tell anybody about it, and we didn't really ask why they had suddenly decided to get married.
And I think it was for health insurance, and so on, reasons.
-Both video artists, it was a challenge for both of them financially.
♪♪ -They had a lively relationship, certainly.
It was difficult for us not to hear, you know, certain -- certain exuberant -- you know, certain arguments and that sort of thing.
♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] [ Up-tempo, majestic music plays ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking Korean ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -When I saw that sculpture, it was truly a monumental experience.
-[ Speaking Korean ] -Look where we are now with selfies, constantly seeing our own "images."
-It's zero against infinity, silence against multitude.
[ Gong rings ] -[ Speaking English ] Buddha, Buddha, Buddha.
♪♪ -"TV Buddha" -- that's just in one story.
♪♪ Around that time, he created a lot of iconic pieces.
♪♪ That rocket was just -- just climbing.
♪♪ [ Film rewinding ] -I'm Frank McGee, here with Barbara Walters this morning, and in this half-hour, we're going to take a look at some futuristic television.
It's the work of a Korean artist.
-The Kandinsky, the Picasso of video art, which has suddenly become respectable.
-He is Nam June Paik.
-[ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ -I should say again, it is experimental television, and therefore, it may be unlike anything that you've seen before.
-[ Speaking English ] -Father of video art.
-The George Washington of video art.
-[ Speaking native language ] -The Whitney Museum of American Art organized the first-ever retrospective devoted to a video artist.
-The first-ever museum retrospective for a video artist.
-The first major retrospective to honor a video artist.
[ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] [ Camera shutters clicking ] ♪♪ -Are you here and -- -[ Speaking English ] -I know, the way you sound like... -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] -[ Speaking English ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -[ Chuckles ] -Whatever.
-Nam June -- he had a different sense of purpose, different idea of what an artist's job might be.
♪♪ [ Electricity crackles ] ♪♪ This is a man who understood deeply about what was coming.
-What should I do?
-Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
-No badge, or no white skin, or no white sheet, or... -...can stop this movement.
And the only way to deal with it is to give these people what we owe them and what's their God-given right... -[ Speaking English ] -Like a superhighway, it is called Internet.
-...the Information Superhighway.
-The idea of the electronic highway was not Al Gore's idea, it was Nam June's.
♪♪ -There is no place -- There's no place like home.
-Under the Constitution, you can end the war.
Not another... ♪♪ ♪♪ -You know, I remember, one night being awakened by a phone call from Nam June.
Clearly, it was Nam June, because he was the only one who would call at 3:00 in the morning.
If you were lucky enough to be in his circle, that would happen from time to time.
And so I picked up the phone.
And sure enough... [ Telephone rings ] Oh, there it is.
If that's Nam June, we're in big trouble.
[ Telephone rings ] -Does your landline ring often?
[ Sighs ] It's funny.
Anyway, I remember this one night, he said, "I'm wrong.
It's not information highway.
We're in a boat in the ocean, and we don't know where the shore is."
♪♪ And I think I said to him like, "Yeah, alright, yeah, thanks.
Okay, yeah, good night."
I hung up the phone like -- Like, you know, "The [bleep]?
Not information highway?
We're in a boat in the ocean?
We don't know where the shore is?"
♪♪ Maybe 25 years later, I realized he was describing the Internet, that it's not a highway, that it's an ocean of information.
♪♪ That in fact, finding your way in that ocean was going to be the key -- finding the shore.
♪♪ And even the way he frames it, as like a -- "You're lost at sea in a small boat," you know, it's a crisis.
♪♪ He was trying to understand how the world was changing as a function of technology, out of control.
That technology was not just a blessing.
At worst, it was a [bleep] nightmare.
-No, no, no, no, no!
♪♪ -"Needless to say, with high tech, there will be many unforeseen problems ahead."
♪♪ -[ Speaking Russian ] -The United States is a leader in technology.
The Soviet Union, to put it mildly, is not.
-[ Speaking Russian ] -Today, 70% of U.S. military communications overseas go via satellite.
The Russians have already conducted about 20 tests of an anti-satellite weapon that would maneuver close to an American satellite and blow it up.
-[ Speaking Russian ] -The Americans and the Soviets have been described as two scorpions in a bottle.
They are now high-tech scorpions.
Accidental nuclear war can be avoided only if the computers on both sides work -- ours and theirs.
-Space, the final frontier of war.
♪♪ [ Test-pattern tone ] [ "Celebration" plays ] -♪ Whoo-hoo ♪ -"Unless somebody acts quickly, history will repeat itself."
♪♪ "Another landmark year is approaching -- George Orwell year 1984."
-♪ Celebrate good times, come on ♪ -"With less than the cost of one night Broadway production, which reaches only a few hundred people, our transatlantic satellite production will reach millions of people on two continents, and many million more behind the Iron Curtain -- an affirmation of positive uses of technology."
-He came to me in late October for a broadcast January 1st, [Chuckles] -- something nobody had ever done before.
And I said to him, "Nam June, we can't do a live New York-Paris broadcast two months."
-He was trying to convince producers, television stations, networks around the globe to carry his idea of a live transmission via satellite.
-Among other broadcasters, he definitely reached out to Korea, to KBS.
-"I was only one guy in the world who says that Orwell is only half of truth.
Video artists challenge Orwell's theory."
-♪ Whoo-hoo ♪ [ Mid-tempo music plays ] -Help.
-Good morning, Mr. Orwell.
-Bonjour, Monsieur Orwell.
You've made it, and we've made it to 1984.
You and I are here today to say hello to a notorious new Year as we recover from saying goodbye to an old one.
I'm George Plimpton, here in New York, welcoming you to what promises to be a rather unusual event in live television.
My Parisian counterpart is introducing this program to French television audiences.
Bonjour, Monsieur Viller?
à votre santé!
-Shall we toast the new year?
Bonne année à vous.
-Yes, we will do that.
-[ Chuckles ] And to France.
-Happy New Year to you.
-And to you, sir.
-And to everyone.
-La même chose à vous en France aussi.
Now I believe the popular French singer Sapho is about to perform live... -[ Speaking French ] -...her new song.
-[ Singing in French ] -We observe the legendary Merce Cunningham, as he becomes the first man of 1984 to truly dance with himself.
♪♪ [ Speaking English ] [ Laughs ] -Said it's the future trouser of the 21 century.
Everybody in the world should make such trousers.
-♪ When I see the future, I close my eyes ♪ ♪ I can see it now ♪ -♪ Long words ♪ ♪ Excellent words ♪ ♪ I can hear them now ♪ -♪ I have a picture ♪ ♪ Pinned to my wall ♪ -You have all the history of it.
It was a disaster.
Plimpton got drunk.
He was drinking as things went on.
-I may not be Big Brother, [ Laughing ] but I -- I am watching you, right here, from my 1984 vantage point.
-The sound was bad.
-Yes, I need sound.
There's no -- -They didn't -- They didn't turn the sound on.
-It sounds too much like a regular cello.
[ String squeals ] -They didn't turn the sound on.
-♪ Fuss and we fight and delight ♪ -Well, it still sounds pretty good to me.
-Allen Ginsberg and John Cage were having a riot and had gotten extremely stoned before the event.
-♪ Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo ♪ ♪ High on a hill ♪ -The delay was awful.
The jokes didn't land.
-♪ Stay with me ♪ -What's happening?
-Can she hear me?
-I don't -- We've lost -- -Leslie, can you hear me?
-♪ Let loving start ♪ -And I'm in the control room watching this disaster unfold.
And Emile Ardolino, who was the DGA director -- he went on to do "Dirty Dancing" -- threw his hands up at one point and said, "Pick any camera you want.
Any camera you want.
-♪ Searching for something ♪ You know.
[ Laughs ] -♪ Odl lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo ♪ -♪ On the satellite ♪ -♪ Odl lay ee odl lay ee ♪ ♪ Odl lay hee hoo ♪ -I said to Nam June, 'Good Morning, Mr. Orwell' was a disaster!"
I said, "What do you mean, it doesn't matter?!"
We did it."
[ Applause ] -There was the excitement and the satisfaction of knowing that it had been seen not only on American public television stations, but it was also seen in France, of course; in West Germany.
France... ...3.3 to 11 million viewers.
Brazil... -And in... We started here at noon on New Year's Day, so, that would've been 2:00 in the morning in Seoul.
6.8 million Koreans watched the show live.
♪♪ -[ Speaking Korean ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -A little after the George Orwell piece, he was invited to Korea.
He was very nervous about that.
He was very nervous.
And then he said, "I haven't been home in 34 years."
Korea was not a democratic country.
And he told me bluntly, he said, "I have this leftist reputation."
And he said, "I'm afraid they'll arrest me."
He actually gave me a phone number in...Amsterdam.
And he said, "If you don't hear from me --" Because he was leaving for Seoul and he said, "If you don't hear from me in two weeks, call this number."
And I said, "What do I do with it?"
And he said, "Just call the number and say you haven't heard from me."
So, he had set up something to protect himself, but he was very, very concerned about that.
He was very nervous.
[ Suspenseful music plays ] ♪♪ [ Cheering and applause ] [ Speaking Korean ] [ Camera shutter clicks ] [ Conversing in Korean ] ♪♪ [ Camera shutter clicking ] -And, of course, he was received like some national hero.
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Conversing in Korean ] [ Laughter ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Creature screeching ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Within a short period of time, his extended family was gone.
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Applause ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -"Allen Ginsberg said, 'Time is a big lie.'"
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking English ] [ Speaking Korean ] -Nam June and I concocted this scheme where we would bring the '93 biennial to Seoul.
[ Applause ] ♪♪ -Nam June was nonstop.
He was perpetual motion.
-Of course, Nam June had too many projects.
-We collaborated together.
He was already older and he came to my studio to finish up one of the sculptures.
It was hard for him to walk or to stand up for a long time, so he asked me for a little stool, so he could work on the sculpture sitting down.
And when I brought him the stool, he apologized and he said, "Well, you know, the Buddha is punishing me for everything I did to it."
♪♪ ♪♪ -Very painful time for us to watch.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Siren wailing ] [ Vehicle horns blaring ] -Before stroke, he was a truly global trotter and the stroke stationed him on Mercer Street.
[ Speaking English ] -Yeah, yeah.
[ Laughter ] Good?
-You know him?
-He was full of hope that he would one day recuperate and resume his old activities.
-He created a self-reflective body of work that looked back to his past, an artwork of his that's a fragment of the Berlin Wall that he painted on.
♪♪ -The Berlin Wall piece, it shows division where there should be unity.
♪♪ It's more relevant than ever.
And this is Nam June's protest against division and a hope for unity in Korea.
[ Speaking German ] [ Laughter and applause ] [ Thud ] ♪♪ [ Thudding ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Thudding ] -You still are working very, very well, aren't you?
-[ Speaking English ] [ Laughs ] [ Laughs ] -[ Laughing ] Yeah.
-Mr. Nam June Paik and Mr. Ken Hakuta.
♪♪ [ Camera shutters clicking ] [ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -So, you like these Buddhas?
So, what do you want -- what do you want to do with them again?
-I'm not really sure.
I'll put them in a museum show.
♪♪ -The big thing to say about all this is look at that final work that he created in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum.
[ Applause ] He said, "John, I want a seven-story waterfall to fall.
I want laser to move through it.
-Climbed from the center of the atrium and into the beyond.
It's like literally like a spear of light grounding the earth and the heavens.
-Nam June is always transcending our vision of reality, opening up unbelievable possibilities.
Oh, boy, the story is so poignant, that he would do something with the story of Jacob's Ladder at the end of his life and that it be kind of the last sort of spectacle that he created, just because of the biblical meaning of that story.
♪♪ Jacob is the biblical trickster.
So, Nam June Paik was a trickster.
This is the moment where Jacob kind of has an awakening.
It's the moment where he also wrestles with the angel of God.
He's ascending the rungs in this and at that point, he's leaving his tricksterness and becoming something more like a sage.
Brings a little -- some tears [ Laughing ] to my eyes.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -[Indistinct], you know, because I do have a master's degree in [indistinct] and I went to Juilliard.
I studied these great [indistinct].
-After you die, where do you want to be buried?
So, what about -- You don't want -- you don't want like cemetery?
You don't want to be there with your parents?
You don't want that?
-But you want to be part in Korea.
Do you want a funeral service?
[ Laughter ] That's good.
Where do you think that would be?
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking Korean ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -What's the title?
-We are playing with two titles or two or three titles right now, so.
I love titles.
Give me a piece of paper and pen.
-[ Laughs ] -We write three titles, mix them, and each of you pick up, to see what you pick up.
Chance operation, John Cage.
-Good old chance operation.
-One, two, three.
Electronic Highway, no.
[ Laughs ] ♪♪ "Moon Is the Oldest TV."
-It's so beautiful and also so true.