Nam June Paik: Global Visionary

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) has an exhibition of the video artist Nam June Paik’s work. Global Visionary is quite a feat, mostly because it is difficult to put that much amazing technology-based artwork in one big room and have it all be in good working shape, which it is… There are 67 works in the show, including the famous TV Buddha, Zen for TV, TV Bra for Living Sculpture, and a TV Cello made famous by Charlotte Moorman. And more and more works from the show.

But the most stunning work in the show is the TV Garden. As a literal centerpiece to the show, the piece is made of real plants (cared for by the Smithsonian Gardens) with televisions buried inside, playing bright colored montages. It is such a simple piece- but the scale and the combination of live plants and electronic equipment creates a beautiful organic hum in the gallery space that is a rare museum sight.

With my love of archives, I must also mention that SAAM just acquired the Paik Archive (a catalyst to this show), and the exhibition included a small tribute to in. Along one wall of the show is a collection of objects and documents from the archive, with an interactive touch screen allowing patrons to learn more about objects. While it is quite impressive, there is very limited information on each object- so it is a bit more flashy technology than full of information- but still nice.

The only thing that could have made this show better was a Paik Piano Piece. I still haven’t seen a working one… Here’s an example..