Nam June Paik: Online Viewing Room

27 May - 31 July 2020
  • Paik emphasized that it is the artist's role in society to re-envision technology in the service of culture. His ideas resonate now, more than ever, as we conduct much of our lives virtually, partaking in Paik's vision of a "global village." 


     “Paik's art recycles his images and appropriates the world's cultures, not to distance us from the world around us, but in order to reengage us with the communities we inhabit.”- John G. Hanhardt, 1993 

    Here, we present three of the artist's iconic sculptures, Main Channel Matrix, Music is Not Sound, and TV Service Robot.


    Please click each image for further details. 


  • Main Channel Matrix is a monumental videowall composed of 65 television sets that play Paik’s seminal 1973 video broadcast "Global Groove" on continuous, splicing loop. Paik reimagined the commercial videowall for electric, expressive purpose, deploying a pastiche of sound and image to create a moving mural, composed of hundreds of discrete images, that subverted the standard language of television. This work has been shown in important exhibitions at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Musée d’Art Contemporain Lyon, and Guggenheim New York, among others.

  • Main Channel Matrix Video Stills

  • Music is Not Sound, 1998, is a mixed media sculpture that appropriates the coin-operated twin TV chairs ubiquitous throughout American airports in the 1980s. A single-channel video playing across both monitors depicts fragments of piano playing and musical instruments and clips of video all subjected to Paik’s signature onslaught of disruptive editing. Paik made six sets of TV chairs in total, titling and constructing each work around a specific artistic discipline: Music is Not Sound, Literature is Not Book, Dance is Not Jumping, Painting is Not Art, Drama is not Theatre, and Star is Not Actor.

  • “As you look down rows of [TV Chairs] wonder if Paik is really saying “Television is not life'--or only offering...

    “As you look down rows of [TV Chairs] wonder if Paik is really saying “Television is not life"--or only offering traditionalists a diplomatic way out. The irony that allows Pop art to be read as a celebration or a castigation of consumerism, or both, operates effectively for Paik. By playing TV overload to the hilt, he creates a visual orgy that can be perceived as a saturated essence of electronic art or a stinging criticism on the vulgarity of life with the tube.”


    - Suzanne Muchnic, LATimes, 1988


  • The intimately scaled TV SERVICE ROBOT, 1997, is a work which references both the studio environment in which Paik created his art and the pace at which technology renders itself obsolete. The glowing clock of the robot’s torso was salvaged from a TV repair shop in New York, and the body of the work is studded with the old radio and TV tubes which littered the studio floor. It’s unfinished base rests upon a dolly, as it would have at the artist’s studio on Mercer street where this work was made.

  • “The real issue ... is not to make another scientific toy, but how to humanize the technology and the electronic...

    “The real issue ... is not to make another scientific toy, but how to humanize the technology and the electronic medium…”


    - Nam June Paik, 1964

  • Commonly hailed as the father of video art, Nam June Paik saw the latent artistic potential in the glow of the television set sitting in every American’s living room.  


    Over the past half century, Nam June Paik has been the subject of numerous retrospectives at museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom; National Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom. 


    Paik’s work is included in the permanent collections of institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Hiroshima Museum, Hiroshima, Japan; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek, Denmark; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid, Spain; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MI; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Paik’s archive was acquired by the Smithsonian in 2009. 



    1. John G. Hanhardt, 1993 “Non-Fatal Strategies: The Art of Nam June Paik in the Age of Postmodernism,” in Toni Stooss and Thomas Kellein, Nam June Paik: Video Time—Video Space, exh. cat. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1993)

    2. An excerpt by Suzanne Muchnic, published on March 4, 1988 in the LATimes on the occasion of Nam June Paik’s exhibition at at Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Los Angeles 

    3. Nam June Paik, “Afterlude to the Exposition of Experimental Television,” in Fluxus (New York), June 1964, p. 6. Reprinted in Hanhardt, The Worlds of Nam June Paik, 62.

    4. Nam June Paik, 1967, Photo: Peter Moore © 2018 Barbara Moore / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, NY