Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Nam June Paik


As I left this exhibition, my brain was actually hurting. There was alot to take in, and the abundance of flashing seizure inducing television screens didn't help.

This exhibition showcases around ninety works from all phases of his career alongside a selection of documentary materials from Paik’s performances and early exhibitions. The first piece I saw was a personal favourite, titled 'One Candle' 1988. The piece consists of a candle on a stand, that is filmed by a video camera and simultaneously projected via 4 video projectors onto a wall in the gallery space.The projection itself is made up of a red, green, and blue image of the live flickering candle. There was an obvious contrast between the modern technology and the ancient use of the candle, which was further illustrated in the contrast in colours. The warm light from the candle was soft and meditative, whereas the crass primary colours seemed to juxtapose the image they cast. I found this idea of 'anti-technological technology' interesting, and this high tech video is dependant on the light from a simple candle, for without it, the video would disappear.

Another visually appealing piece was 'T.V Garden' which was a surreal mass of tropical vegetation and TV sets, varying in size, playing colourful, crudely edited videos. It was a happy environment to be in, and the piece has a sense of movement of energy, compared to the generally static pieces, previously seen on the top floor. 'Video Fish' also caught my eye. My immediate reaction to the piece was a concern for the welfare of the fish. Strange as it sounds. The fish were in a series of tanks side by side, and behind each tank was a TV screen, showcasing flashing, swirling, neon imagery and film. Similar to many of his other film pieces. I personally can't watch this type of film art for more than a couple of minutes before my eyes start to strain and I feel frustrated and confused. These fish have this to deal with all day long...anyway on closer inspection they seemed happy enough and I suppose that's beside the point. After I'd convinced myself the fish wern't too traumatised I read the caption for the piece. The piece reflects the relationship between nature and technology, which seems to be an ongoing theme throughout the work. There was a hint towards 'reality TV' and I found myself being more drawn to watch reality-the fish, than the video itself.

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