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Nam June Paik
«AFTERLUDE to the Exposition of EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION»
My experimental TV is
not always interesting
not always uninteresting
like nature, which is beautiful,
not because it changes b e a u t i f u l l y,
but simply because it c h a n g e s.
The core of the beauty of nature is that the limitless QUANTITY of nature disarmed the category of QUALITY, which is used unconsciously mixed and confused with double meanings.
In my experimental TV, the word QUALITY means only the CHARACTER, but not the VALUE.
A is different from B,
but not that
A is better than B.
Sometimes I need red apple
Sometimes I need red lips.
2 My experimental TV is the first ART (?), in which the ‹perfect crime› is possible........I had put just a diode into opposite direction, and got a ‹waving# negative television. If my epigons do the same trick, the result will be completely the same (unlike Webern and Webern-epigons) ... that is ...
My TV is NOT the expression of my personality,
a ‹PHYSICAL MUSIC›
like my ‹FLUXUS champion contest›, in which the longest-pissing-time record holder is honored with his national hymn (the first champion: E Trowbridge. U.S.A. 59.7 seconds).
My TV is more (?) than the art,
less (?) than the art.
I can compose something, which lies higher (?)
than my personality
lower (?) than my personality.
Therefore (?), perhaps therefore, the working process and the final result has little to do,,,,,and therefore,... by no previous work was I so happy working as in these TV experiments.
In usual compositions, we have first the approximate vision of the completed work (the pre-imaged ideal, or ‹IDEA,› in the sense of Plato). Then, the working process means the torturing endeavor to approach to this ideal ‹IDEA.› But in the experimental TV, the thing is completely revised. Usually I don't, or cannot have any pre-imaged VISION before working. First I seek the ‹WAY,› of which I cannot foresee where it leads to. The ‹WAY,›... that means, to study the circuit, to try various ‹FEEDBACKS,› to cut some places and feed the different waves there, to change the phase of waves, etc.,... whose technical details I will publish in the next essay.... Anyway, what I need is approximately the same kind of ‹IDEA› that American ad agency used to use,.,.,.,.,just a way or a key to something NEW. This ‹modern›(?) usage of ‹IDEA› has not much to do with ‹TRUTH,› ‹ETERNITY,› ‹CONSUMMATION,› ‹ideal IDEA,› which Plato-Hegel ascribed to this celebrated classical terminology. (IDEA) = f.i.
‹KUNST IST DIE ERSCHEINUNG DER IDEE.›
‹ART is the appearance of the idea.›
(Hegel-- -- -- -- Schiller.)
This difference should be underlined, because the ‹Fetishism of Idea› seems to me the main critical criterion in contemporary art, like ‹Nobility and Simplicity› in the Greek art (Winckelmann), or famous five pairs of categories of Wölfflin in Renaissance and Baroque art.
INDETERMINISM and VARIABILITY is the very UNDERDEVELOPED parameter in the optical art, although this has been the central problem in music for the last ten years (just as parameter SEX is very underdeveloped in music, as opposed to literature and optical art).
a) I utilized intensely the live-transmission of normal program, which is the most vari-able optical and semantical event in 1960s. The beauty of distorted Kennedy is different from the beauty of football hero, or not always pretty but always stupid female announcer.
b) Second dimension of variability.
Thirteen sets suffered thirteen sorts of variation in their VIDEO-HORIZONTAL-VERTICAL units. I am proud to be able to say that all thirteen sets actually changed their inner circuits.
No two sets had the same kind of technical operation. Not one is the simple blur, which occurs when you turn the vertical- and horizontal-control buttons at home. I enjoyed very much the study of electronics, which I began in 1961, and some life danger I met while working with fifteen kilovolts. I had the luck to meet nice collaborators: HIDEO UCHIDA (president of UCHIDA Radio Research Institute), a genial avant-garde electronician, who discovered the principle of transistor two years earlier than the Americans, and SHUYA ABE, all-mighty politechnician, who knows that the science is more a beauty than the logic. UCHIDA is now trying to prove the telepathy and prophecy electromagnetically.
c) As the third dimension of variability, the waves from various generators, tape recorders, and radios are fed to various points to give different rhythms to each other. This rather old-typed beauty, which is not essentially combined with high-frequency technique, was easier to understand to the normal audience, maybe because it had some humanistic aspects.
d) There are as many sorts of TV circuits as French cheese sorts. F.i. some old models of 1952 do certain kind of variation, which new models with automatic frequency control cannot do.
e) Many mystics are interested to spring out from ONE-ROW-TIME, ONE-WAY-TIME, in order to
GRASP the Eternity.
aa) To stop at the consummated or steril Zero-point is a classical method to grasp the eternity.
bb) To perceive SIMULTANEOUSLY the parallel flows of many independent movements is another classical way for it.
But poor Joyce was compelled to write the parallely advancing stories in one book with one-way direction, because of the othology of the book. The simultaneous perception of the parallel flows of 13 independent TV movements can perhaps realize this old dream of mystics, although the problem is left unresolved, whether this is possible with our normal physiognommy (we have only one heart, one breath, one focus of eye,) without some mystical training, and IF WELL TRAINED,,,,,,,,he needs neither 13 TVs, not TV, nor electronics, nor music, nor art,.......the happiest suicide of art....the most difficult anti-art, that ever existed.......I don't know, who could have achieved this platonic and steril consummation of art,
because if he REALLY did,
I should not know his name.
I must not know his name.
Source: Paik published a brochure for the exhibition in Wuppertal, 1963, with the first theoretical statement on his works with TV sets. The ‹Afterlude’, whose first part is reprinted here, continues this reflection. Originally published in: Fluxus cc five Three, 1964, reprinted in: Gregory Battcock (ed.), New Artists Video: A critical anthology, New York, 1978.