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Nam June Paik
«Global Groove and Video Common Market»
The Treaty of Rome (1957) was preceded for a decade by vocal exhortations of prophetic statesmen like Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet or Hallstein, and tedious, painstaking and prolonged negotiations by the economists of six European countries. Many times the process was termed hopeless, utopian or academic. But the result, the European Common Market, a long dreamed of free trade zone, surpassed even the most wild imaginings in terms of growth and prosperity. England's trouble is a well-known fact.
Videoland on this spaceship Earth resembles the divided state of European countries before 1957. Many TV stations around the world are hoarding videotapes totaling thousands of hours and asking impossibly high prices or compliance with complicated procedures to obtain some commodity for which they have almost no prospect of selling. Or Videoland, a so-called communications media, is so discommunicative with each other that practically no one knows what to buy, to import or export. Should video culture stay as divided, nationalistic and, protectionistic as the block economy of the Thirties, which amplified the depressicn, instigated Fascism and helped promote World War II?
World peace and survival of earth is Public Interest Number I and, needless to say, Public Interest Number I must be Interest Number I of Public Television. What we need now is a champion of free trade, who will form a Video Common Market modeled after, the European Common Market in its spirit and procedure; this would strip the hieratic monism of TV culture and promote the free flow of Video information through an inexpensive bartar system or convenient free market.
McLuhan's premature high hope for the Global Village via TV is based on an obscure book, The Bias of Communication, by H. A. Innis (1951) which traced the origin of nationalism to the invention of movable type. But, ironically, today's video culture is far more nationalistic than print media. You simply cannot escape Camus or Sartre in a book store. But do you remember seeing a production of French TV recently? Is it conceivable that the wonderful people who delivered a line of genius from Moliere to Goddard become suddenly petrified in front of silver flick? David Atwood, a director at WGBH, reports a contrary thing. TV cameras are following so busily the latest spots of violence that kids, who receive most of their education from TV, think that such noble countries as Switzerland and Norway are chunks of real estate lying somewhere in the Milky Way or at best, beyond Madagascar. How can we teach about peace while blocking out one of the few existing examples from the screen? Most Asian faces we encounter on the American TV screen are either miserable refugees, wretched prisoners or hated dictators. But most middle-class Asians are seeing essentially the same kind of clean-cut entertainment shows on their home screens as most American Nielsen families. Did this vast information gap contribute to the slightest degree by the All-American TV screen of the Mid-West before landing in Saigon, which necessarily has all of the miseries of a war-torn country? If yes, those accused GI's are also victims of monistic TV networks to a certain extent. Don Luce, a former director of the International Voluntary Service in Vietnam with a ten year service record, notes: «American failures in Vietnam have been essentially failures in communication and understanding» (quoted in the Saturday Review from Vietnam: Unheard Voice, Cornell University Press). And how about Russian TV? They might not be that bad if they ran such bourgeois soap operas
as The Forsythe Saga, and I am curious how their Huntley-Brinkley-vich talk the pravda (truth) every evening. Understandably, negotiations for the Video Common Market will be as tiresome and frustrating as those for the European Common Market. But its huge reward will be not only philosophical. Faster rotation of capital is also a supreme requirement for cost-efficiency in a cultural economy. A new paper money created by the International Monetary Fund to check the gold out-flow, indicated by the Special Drawing Right or SDR, would serve-as a model for the proposed Video Common Market. I suggested this in my Stony Brook report, in February 1968, before SDR was approved.
The American Public Television System is, by its nature, destined to be a vanguard for this movement. A persistent and protracted effort should be initiated by WGBH. It is radlical in the sense that it attacks the radix, or root, of conventionalism, beyond the success or failure of the individual program or weekly series.
Jazz was the first tie between Blacks and Whites. Mozart was the first tie between Europeans and Asians. Beethoven was the last tie between Germans and Americans during World War II. Currently rock music is the only channel between young and old. But the power of music as a non-verbal communications medium has been wasted as much as were the vast resources under the ocean. Therefore, if we could assemble a weekly television festival comprised of music and dance from every nation and disseminate it freely via the proposed Video Common Market to the world, its effects on education and entertainment would be phenomenal. Peace can be as exciting as a John Wayne war movie. The tired slogan of «world peace» will agaIn become fresh and marketable.
Back in 1938 Buckminster Fuller clefined the Word «ecology» as follows: «...very word Šeconomicsš springs etymologically from Šecologyš meaning the body of knowledge developed out of the house. We stress not housing but essentially comprehensive research and design....The question of survival, and the answer, which is unit, lies in the progressive sum-totaling of man's evolving knowledge. Individual survival is identifiable with the whole as extension or extinction.» (Nine Chains to the Moon, 1938).
On the last Earth Day, ecology was treated as a temporary face-leftilig or local anesthesia. Ecology is not «politics» but a devoutful Weltanschung, which believes in world design, global recyclization, the shift of our attitude from «you OR me» to «you AND me», as Mr. Fuller, the guru of the whole movement, never ceases to emphasize. Global Groove and Video Common Market treat the root of polution much more than one more conventional documentary on a lake.
Let me finis.h this essay in a digital way:
The New York Times spends about 70% of her important pages on international coverage.
The New York News spends about 7%
for the equivalent.
NET's average is closer to the Daily news than to the Times.
Source: Nam June Paik : Video `n´ Videology 1959–1973, ed. by Judson Rosebush, published by the Verson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, unpaged.