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The Strange Music of Nam June Paik

Camera Three
1975, 27 min, color, sound

This historical document locates Nam June Paik's artistic origins as a composer, tracing his studies at the Conservatory for Music in Freiburg, his work with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne, and the influence of the art and ideas of John Cage on his work. In a humorous performance, Paik irreverently "plays" an electronically treated piano with his head, drills holes into it, and smashes it as rock stars do with their instruments. Also featured is documentation of the premier presentation of the TV Bra with Charlotte Moorman. To conclude the performance, Paik piles hollowed television sets on top of one another as a sort of symbolic totem for mass media culture. Inserting his head, and peering out from inside the monitor, he recites slogans "advertising" the creative uses of TV: "Radio Free Europe is interesting and informative. But the noise that jams that station is also interesting and informative. Enjoy both. Jam your television and make it Radio Free America." In toying with the inevitable static residue of advanced communication technology, Paik invents a dialect within the language of electronic media.

Producer: Camera Three. With: Charlotte Moorman. Commentary: Russell Connor. Producer: Fred Barzyk. Director: John Musilli. Art Director: Elmon Webb. Technical Director: Bob Vermum. Audio: Jack Katz. Made available by Creative Arts Television.