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Editor’s View: Where It All Began

If you’re in New York this fall or winter, make time to view the Asia Society’s exhibit Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot, on view until January 5.

Responsible for initially defining and developing video as an art form, Paik was imaginative and innovative in his experiments with technology, interested in new forms of media, constantly evolving new ways to “transmit” his concepts.

He co-developed, for example, a tool called the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer that transformed closed-circuit video broadcasts and pre-recorded footage into video collages—and this was in 1969! As someone who works with video and video technology, you owe it to yourself to see his art; you can consider it “professional development.”

Family of Robot: Mother, 1986. Single-channel video sculpture with vintage television and radio casings and monitors; tuner; liquid crystal display; color; silent. Image courtesy of Nagoya City Art Museum.

Exhibit curator Michelle Yun explains that Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot will focus on the artist’s interest in “humanizing technology and looking at how the artist melded technology, fine art and popular culture to really transform the way we view the world.” Becoming Robot focuses on three areas of the artist’s career: Paik’s working methods and process, his philosophy toward technology, and the intersection of technology and culture.

“Viewers will really get a glimpse into Nam June Paik’s world and into his brain,” says Yun, “to feel how dynamic and provocative he was.”