Piano Piece

by surveyinstallationart

By. Sae Byull Lee

Today, there is no exact definition for what video art is. “All art is about communication, but the video arts in particular are about mass communication.” [2] There are different types of video art and one form of the video art is “actually created on the television screen by manipulating dials, selecting colors, combining figures and other elements.” [2], and the other form of video art is filmmaking that is create a visual elements more like story lines.  Video Art had the most activity during the middle 1970’s. It was during this time that artists have recognized video as an artistic object.  As I look through the text book, I was very happy to see name of the artist from my country, Korea.  Name of the artist was Paik Nam-June.

One of the recent work of art pieces by Nam-June Paik is “Piano Piece.” This art work is homage to his friend and mentor John Cage, who died in 1992. It appropriates an upright piano as the primary object with closed circuit video cameras placed at angles to the keyboard and near the hammers above, both using wide angle lenses. Piled in a grid on top of the piano and to either side are television monitors of varying sizes, turned at different angles, displaying images, including Cage, and various audio and visual equipments. A computer program by Richard Titlebaum plays music by Cage on the piano, and Paik’s hands and feet are shown in several of the monitors as he plays, as well as choreographer and friend Merce Cunningham. Paik developed inventive visual effects, which are displayed on the monitors, creating a dynamic and coordinated visual presentation. [1]

Historical context that Nam-June Paik’s art shows is the technological advances that it took place during 1970.  The 20thcentury had become increasingly interactive, and mobile – after moving pictures and television were invented, painting seemed suddenly static. As crowds rushed to the movie theater, perhaps some artists felt a desire to compete with this new dynamism, adding not only movement, but sound as well, to their work.  First official television broadcast in the United States took place in 1939 but in 1950, 11 years from first official television broadcast, television became one of the household items for American homes. Video tape and video camera were introduced for amateur use during the 1960’s. But, people had to wait for another ten years for the video art to be introduced to the world because expensive cost of the mediums that required for video art.  “Piano Piece” by Nam-June Paik was created and introduced during 1990s.  “Piano Piece” speaks its historical context of what Nam-June Paik was going through during this time around.  John Cage, the mentor and friend of Nam-June Paik has passed away in 1992.  This art work shows how much Nam-June Paik loved his friend John Cage and how much he missed him by just looking at displaying images and music by John Cage playing on the piano.

In my opinion, Nam-Jun Paik and video art made significant transition in the field of art by utilizing the innovative technology of today.  However, downside of the Paik’s art piece is that it costs a lot of money to produce and dimension is huge that it is not expected to be displayed in home.  Because of the uniqueness and brilliant idea draws huge attraction whenever it is displayed in the museum.

Works Cited

[1] Doyle, Nancy. “Artists Profile: Nam-June Paik” Nancy Doyle Fine Arts. 26 Mar. 2005  http://www.ndoylefineart.com/paik.html

[2] Getlein, Mark.  Gilbert’s Living With Art  6th ed.  McGraw-Hill Higher Education.  New York.  pp. 238 – 240

[3] Halfon, Leeron. Current Work on Video Art. 26 Mar. 2005 http://www.ma-radio.gold.ac.uk/videoart.htm

[4] Morgan, Robert C. “Plexus: Paik’s Fragments” Robert C. Morgan & Holly Solomon Gallery. 1995.  26    Mar. 2005  http://www.plexus.org/morgan/paik.html

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