The Reflexive Medium – http://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/9780262195669_ind_0001.pdf
“Skin has become inadequate in interfacing with reality. Technology has become the body’s new membrane of existence.”
“Our life is half natural and half technological.”
The Old and New?
TV and the TV Viewer?
“To illustrate what this book intends to do, I will use as an example a 1974 work by the Korean-born video artist Nam June Paik. The archetype of his long series of TV-Buddhas, this work employs the short-circuit technique, which was state-of-the-art at the time (Fig. I.1).19 A short circuit, produced by a video camera, projects the same image twenty-five times a second onto a TV monitor. That image is of a Buddha statue, which itself is placed in front of the TV screen. The work reflects (and parodies) the relation between TV and TV viewer. It also is reminiscent of the then-current fascination with life images, which J. C. Bringuier in the Cahiers du cinéma called the “mystique du direct.” Bringuier illustrated immediacy in time between picture and viewer with a 1961 photograph of a newscaster on French TV whose image is caught on the monitor while he speaks.20 In his TV Buddha, Paik offers a configuration of image, medium, and body that looks like a subversive demonstration of the way in which their interaction works.
7 Copyrighted Material introduction for the english reader
Fig. I.1. Nam June Paik, Installation view of the exhibition “Projects: Nam June Paik” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. August 29, 1977 through October 10, 1977. Gelatin silver print, 17.8 x 24.1 cm. Photographic Archive. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/ Licenced by SCALA/Art Resource, NY.
There are two media here (statue and TV), but only one Buddha image— for the Buddha Figure already is an image, and it creates or reflects the same image, as if in a mirror. A viewer is included as well, who receives an image of his or her own. Paik does not address the usual viewer, but instead represents Buddha as a viewer. By means of the so-called Buddha statue (which incidentally is not actually a statue of a Buddha but of a Buddhist monk), and the mirror (which is not actually reflecting but rather simulated by the short circuit between the camera and monitor), Paik creates a deceiving tautology between the speed of the new medium (TV) and the sculptural immobility of the old medium (the statue), both of Japanese origin but the one recent, the other several centuries old. As we compare the dual medium (the one old and three-dimensional, the other new and electronic), the non-identity of image and medium is confirmed. The image we see twice is neither in front of the TV (the statue) nor on the TV screen. It emerges in our gaze, and with a paradoxical ambiguity, for it straddles the boundary between two media which both receive it and yet do not catch it. In a 1974 performance, which took place beside the work, the artist himself replaced the sitting statue in front of the TV, thus offering yet another variant of the circular interrelation of image, medium, and body. ”
A NEW INTRODUCTION FOR THE ENGLISH READER: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9550.pdf
I’ve always been interested in Nam June Paik’s work. He was certainly a pioneer in pushing the technology of his time through artwork. There aren’t many earlier examples of such a creative sense of using these new(ish) wonders.
TV Buddha has grabbed my attention with its clear focus on the religious (or spiritual) and the technological. The fact that the work is a literal reflection of the Buddha through technology sparks a debate on religion in a time of technological advance. Its even more relevant today.
The buddha sits, staring at itself. The present looks back into the past, and visa versa.
Today, we could almost translate it as the physical reflecting on the digital, and visa versa.
There’s a question about archives
Can it be cross-referenced with Daniel Rozin?
The Western Media vs. The Oriental Deity…
Self Perception? Reflection?
Breaking language barriers both physically and metaphorically
– His 4th show – Galeria Bonino, New York.
Nam June Paik: Watch with Buddha
Oh wow,” I exclaim. “Ooh-err.” Lasers are scribbling fancy patterns across my eyeballs. Spiralling tunnels of pulsing colour, footling electronic geometries, zooming meteoric lines of light, all projected on to a translucent fabric cone that dangles from the ceiling of FACT in Liverpool. You can wander round the cone, watching the lasers inscribe their interminable abstract nonsense over its surface. Or lie on the floor under the cone and let the lights envelop you, spirals and circles pulsing towards your face.
Yet it is hard to take this very seriously. Maybe it was never meant to be serious. In any case, lasers are so passé. When one was aimed along Oxford Street as a novel yet severely un-festive Christmas decoration in the early 1980s, people worried that its beam would frazzle and slice any pigeons foolish enough to cross its beam. I waited with bated breath, but no diced pigeon meat ever pelted the pavements. It was disappointing.
We are used to these shimmering bowstrings of light now. Laser lightshows no longer thrill. They’re so commercial and a little bit naff. We, like the technology, have moved on, and these days even the pigeons don’t blink. Laser Cone is a late work by the Korean-born artist Nam June Paik (made in collaboration with Norman Ballard). Paik, who died in 2006, was a pioneer of all sorts of electronic media, an avant garde musician and composer who studied Schoenberg and befriended Stockhausen. Part of the Fluxus movement (along with Yoko Ono), he was an occasional painter, a friend and collaborator of Joseph Beuys and John Cage. Video maestro, TV-mangler and orchestrator of daft performances, Paik persuaded his muse, Charlotte Moorman, to dunk herself in a tank of water before playing the cello naked, with tiny TV monitors strapped to her breasts. It wasn’t that she played the cello well so much as that she could play it at all in these circumstances that seemed to matter.
Much of what Paik did looks quaint now. He was in any case a great recycler, not least of ideas – his own and other people’s. Born in Seoul in 1932, Paik grew up with the technology and art of the postwar 20th century. His sprawling retrospective at Tate Liverpool and FACT is filled with old televisions, inert reel-to-reel tape recorders, primitive electronic synthesisers: flickering, degraded videos of once-radical performances. It’s a junkshop of ideas, old cathode ray tubes, abused pianos and cellos, the dysfunctional and the non-functional. Notes of a musical score are replaced by snippets of magnetic tape. John Cage’s 4’33” silence is recorded in the streets of Harlem and on a rubbish-strewn lot.
Paik takes a pickaxe to a piano. He puts a big magnet on top of a television, and the picture is distorted into an abstract form that looks like a Brancusi or an Arp. He fixed TVs to the undersides of chairs (so you could almost sit on the screen, letting the image warm your bum) and lined them up behind a row of fishtanks. Little fish swam before the screens, oblivious to all the garish action. Other old TVs, of all shapes and sizes, are piled up to look like robots, or sit amongst a jungle of plants in a darkened room, blaring mysteriously amid the foliage. Paik built a motorcyclist with a TV for a head, hands bristling with clogged-up paintbrushes, riding a bike festooned with screens. This work is called Route 66. The biker isn’t so much on a road trip as surfing the channels. At his worst, Paik did the obvious, and the humour has palled.
A fat, black Buddha watches television. He sits giggling before the screen, and looks like he’s enjoying a show. I imagine canned laughter blaring out. But the television is silent, an empty shell. A dead candle sits in the cabinet. Another stone Buddha looks alert, attentive, transfixed before another dead TV, watching a show only he can see. You imagine his wonder at the virtual world in his head. Another carved Buddha, a piece of sandstone so weathered it is little more than a lump, faces a similarly blank screen. The Buddha and the telly look at one another, inscrutable, meditating. I like these works very much, and they retain a peculiar mystery and tension. Made during the 80s and 90s, Paik’s TV Buddhas are also funny, and a little haunting, and for me the best things he ever did.
Elsewhere in the show we come across a projection of a blank video. The image is a bright white light on the wall of a white cell. Occasional random blips, tiny flaws in the tape, provide the only images. Watching this feels absurd as well as meditative, just like listening to 4’33”. I wander out, doing a zombie walk, the blips still in my eyes.
Below is the explanation I provided on the Skype Chat. It’s too vague. After some more research this week, I hope to significantly narrow it down to a better and more suitable question / abstract.
My research paper will focus on Nam June Paik’s ‘TV Buddha’ and elements of Damien Hirst’s ‘A Thousand Years’ to investigate whether the longevity of internet / digital technology use is comparable to religious practice, in terms of shaping the personal “quest for identity.” This will look at the idea of the gaze, and how social media and constant-flow information impact a person’s definition of belief systems.
this is far too broad, and I need to focus in on the main ideas more. Its also mildly obnoxious, for that i apologise but I certainly find the topic interesting and relevant. I’m undecided on Damien Hirst’s inclusion, I’m also considering work by Jake and Dinos Chapman. I need to narrow this down quite dramatically.
My research will be based on Virilio’s idea of the information bomb and Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message amongst others. I aim to contact CODEC and other organisations looking into the diminishing reliance on religion in the age of techno-science.
– the longevity of social media use. the self gaze and the window into others lives.
– Religion as intrinsic on personal and group identity. Relevance with these windows? Is this identity still based on location / situation?
– TV Buddha as a stand off between the religious and the scientific
– A Thousand Years to demonstrate grasping scientific endeavour in artistic practice. The potential life cycles of both the work and the viewers.
– Religious practice, technology use as addiction.
Too broad, too insensitive, too obnoxious, potentially too problematic…. however I still feel theres a serious relevance in this research, and potentially a good research paper.
I explained my paper right at the end of the session due to time constraints, so unfortunately Gareth had to leave and didn’t really manage to make any comments. However, what I did receive from Jonathan and the other students was positive, and very useful.
Below are some of the key notes from their responses:
– Bill Viola,
– I need to focus on one aspect. The explanation above contained about 5 ideas hahaha. ALWAYS too ambitious. Need to rein it in.
– Marshall McLuhan “Quest for Identity”
– Check out Ars Electronica, there COULD be some interesting info worth exploring. All are in CSM library.
– Art & the Spiritual. Edited by Bill Hall and David Jasper. This book is in the Camberwell library
– Jonathan has loads of other Theological Book examples.
– Allegiances with different computer companies – Apple, IBM, Microsoft.
I’m hoping that when I read over this in a week, I’ll laugh at the simplicity and stupidity of my question. That’s if I achieve the work I hope to in that time. I’ve chosen this subject, because its something that I know I can delve deep into, as naturally, I’m interested in its relevance today. I think this interest will drive it forward to be a suitable research paper to shed light on my work.
I must admit that I’m still undecided by Damien Hirst’s ‘A Thousand Years.’ Its a great piece, and certainly relevant to the topic, but I think theres something better…..
I feel my progression in recent weeks has been dyer. I’ve focussed too strongly on work outside of the course, and I feel its beginning to effect my practice. My intention from my application and the first draft of my project proposal was to find an equilibrium between both physical and digital elements in my work. I don’t feel I’ve got much closer to this goal, which is sad but obviously its better now than never that I notice this drop. I’ve succeeded in learning new software and hardware, as well as the opportunities they allow. However, looking over my proposal, there is a lot to be changed.
The title ‘Digital Identity and the Virtual Space Race’ is now too vague for me. “Digital Identity” as a concept in itself is too broad. Its definition is yet set in stone, as it encompasses the entirety of a person’s online contribution. I’ve become more interested in focussing on an element of identity, and what better to investigate for both individuals and communities, than Religion. I mean Religion as “A particular system of faith and worship” and/or “A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion”. These are just two of the definitions of Religion written in the Oxford English dictionary. What better place to start… Obviously I’m not using it alongside any actual, existing, and practiced Religion. Its simply the dedication shown by a person (or user)… Maybe Worship is a better word.
Whatever it is that we use the internet for, there’s certainly a sense of worshipping its functions. The insights into the worlds of others, and of our own, without much effort at all, anywhere, anytime. This fact alone can be seen in how we perceive friendships, relationships, ethics, morales, research, charity, services, communication, entertainment, pleasure, health! All of this and more from one thing. For something to have such an effect on some of the most important elements of your life, you have to trust and worship it.
A Digital Native, if unplugged from the web, would have to compensate for all of these factors and translate them in the real world, which is obviously possible, but would at first be a culture shock. (I mean, imagine going back to letters…..) The phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone” comes to mind. Growing up in a world surrounded by something that is relentlessly popular amongst everyone you meet will inevitably be engrained in your very existence, unless your the salmon of course. In this way, the digital or internet uprising we’ve experienced in the last few decades is comparable to an international, growing religion
A……. Digital-igion…… hahaha…. the stupidest combination of words possible. how about Techno-ligion….. You get the point. (That point being, that I should never mix two words together again…)
Nam June Paik’s TV Buddha, although not intentionally, sparks debate on religion and technology, the past and present, old and new….. The Buddha in the present sits still whilst being filmed, he watches opposite, as himself stares back at him from the past. At the same time, The Buddha recorded from the past sits opposite watching himself in the present…. This has a number of questions surrounding it. An interesting one would be to compare it to the self-reflection of social media. The fact that you can scroll back through your history like a journal with multiple categories and parameters. Does this idea of self-reflection, or maybe even self-absorption effect that person’s reality? I believe it does, and surely it can’t be good for people to reminisce too often. I despise TimeHop for this reason. Bringing this back, given the fact that Millenials, and the more recent Generation Z are reliant on their online activity, is this comparable to addiction or religion? and if so, can religion be seen as an addiction?
TV Buddha in regards to religion clearly holds its link from the simple fact that a Buddha is at its core. Some have said that the piece represents Western media and the Oriental Deity, but in today’s context, I don’t believe the faith system, or where the tv and camera were made, really matters. For me, its either showing the reflective effects that information technology has had on the legitimacy and relevance of religion, or, I.T. usage as a quasi-religion (or as neo-religious) itself.
In the past, developing news stories were literally word of mouth or hear say through the grapevine. There certainly is still an element of that on Twitter, but, for the most part, we usually receive facts within minutes of an event unfolding. I have faith that the news and social media services will deliver me this information in realtime. I have faith that I will be able to communicate through Facebook and other sites, with people I haven’t seen in years, if I so wished to. A letter is more likely not to arrive on time, or even at all!, whereas I have faith that my Facebook message will. How does this change that persons outlook on friendships and relationships? When “Keeping in touch” is made too easy. Thats slightly off point, that is a whole other element of Digital Identity.
To conclude, what I’m trying to say, is that my project proposal, as it stands, is not specific enough. This Objective: “Decipher the differences between the ‘real self’ and digital identity by unravelling each individually,” incorporates a wide range of elements, all of which I aim to look into, but maybe not all of it can be done on the MA. As for the digital architecture and virtual space race side of my proposal. I have a very focussed interest on the emergence of this technology as a consumer item. By simply defining this NoWhere Space, I believe it gives the opportunity to look into the identities created within it. The other side to this, would be to record and research the loss of identity on a real stage / setting. (Society of Spectacle).
For the Research Paper, I hope to find a contrasting work to Nam June Paik’s TV Buddha. I was considering Daniel Rozin’s new mirror-like work made out of revolving Penguins, but this is something I need to discuss in the tutorial.
I’ve played around with visual languages. I naturally don’t like to stick to the same thing for too long, which can be seen as a pitfall, however, I’m optimistic with the potential outcomes, especially as we approach the Interim show. In a previous post I’ve mentioned using a similar process to ‘Monitor,’ using fishing wire, and in another post I’ve said I hoped to use the Ultrasonic sensor and LEDs with canvas and duct tape…. I stand by both of these, and actually aim to incorporate these altogether, though this depends on whether it’ll work…. but I have faith. i’m meeting Ed maybe next week to discuss it.
RIGHT, off to sleep…. or I won’t get the opportunity to discuss this… or even begin work on phishermans.net !!!!!
To Phish – “T