Friday, September 12, 2008

Specular Borders

Nam June Paik negotiated between multiple cultures; essentially he was "familiar with two cultures" but chose not to belong in either of these, negotiating between east and west. Paik was the child of a wealthy Korean family (born in Seoul),and was exposed to Western ideas, music, technology and culture from an early age. He lived in Japan during the Korean War, and then in West Germany in the 1950's. He returned to Korea much later (1984) - "The Homecoming".

Nam June Paik: Art
1. "Good Morning Mr. Orwell", 1984
Paik broadcast the George Orwell idea on television to the USA, Netherlands, Germany, France, Korea with a new technology of simultaneously broadcasting. The general idea was based on George Orwell's book "1984" written in 1949, suggesting the world would be under constant surveillance of the "omnipresent TV Eye" called "Big Brother". Paik's message, however, was that the world wasn't so badly off as his work challenged Orwell's prediction.

2. "Bye Bye Kipling", 1986 Paik's second broadcast (again using new technology to broadcast simultaneously to countries). (1986: also Asian Games in Seoul, Korea which helped put a focus on his broadcast and coverage of the games was part of his broadcast). The subject was taken from colonialist writer, Rudyard Kipling's phrase: "East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet" shown by his broadcast to several countries, that east and west are indeed connected.

Paik lived outside Korea for most of his life. The success of Paik's art demands a critical review on cultural insularity and conservatism. Paik has both of so-called "ours" and "others", "old and "new", "traditional and non-art". He questioned those concepts. In 2001, he adapted his work to a Korean audience.

1. Art reflects the cultural and ethnic experience of the artist.
2. It is possible to distance yourself from your own cultural experience, but it requires considerable and consistent effort, and is likely to be only partially successful.
3. Paik is representative by a globalizing world where an individual may be born into a particular cultural background, but begins to morph into the multiple influences that he experiences as they are affected by other cultures, experiences, histories, contemporary influences and increasingly by the larger trends of global communications, travel and large culturally diverse cities around the world.
4. The rapidly evolving multi-media technologies of today will cause artists in all parts of the world to both explore their own cultural experience, but also using these methods, to make it available to a global audience. The speed of exploration will increase as more people are able to interact with larger audiences.

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