Nam June Paik, the avant-garde composer who was credited with being the inventor of video art, has died. He was 74. The Korean-born Paik died Sunday night of natural causes at his Miami apartment, according to his Web site. Song Tae-ho, head of a South Korean cultural foundation working on a project to build a museum for the artist, said he learned of Paik's death from Paik's nephew, Ken Paik Hakuta, in New York. Paik played a pivotal role in using video as a form of artistic expression. A member of the Fluxus art movement, Paik combined the use of music, video images and sculptures.
Paik's work has gained international praise from the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, among others, and much of his work is on display at the Nam June Paik Museum in Kyonggi, South Korea.
"No artist has had a greater influence in imagining and realizing the artistic potential of video and television than Korean-born Nam June Paik," the Guggenheim Museum Web site says. "Through a vast array of installations, videotapes, global television productions, films, and performances, Paik has reshaped our perceptions of the temporal image in contemporary art."
He completed degrees in music and aesthetics in Japan before pursuing graduate work in philosophy. Some of his experiments were in radio and television, and he is thought to have coined the terms "information superhighway" and "the future is now."
Paik made his artistic debut in Wiesbaden, West Germany, in 1963 with a solo art exhibition titled "Exposition of Music-Electronic Television." He scattered 12 television sets throughout the exhibit space and used them to create unexpected effects in the images being received. Later exhibits included the use of magnets to manipulate or alter the image on TV sets and create patterns of light.
He moved to New York City in 1964 and starting working with classical cellist Charlotte Moorman to combine video and performance. In a performance titled "TV Bra for Living Sculpture," Moorman used stacked television sets that formed the shape of a cello. When she drew the bow across the television sets, there were images of her playing, video collages of other cellists and live images of the performance.
One of his pieces, "TV Buddha," is a statue of a sitting Buddha facing its own image on a closed-circuit television screen. Another, "Positive Egg," has a video camera aimed at a white egg on a black cloth. In a series of larger and larger monitors, the image is magnified until the actual egg becomes an abstract shape on the screen.
Paik also incorporated television sets into a series of robots. The early robots were constructed largely of bits and pieces of wire and metal; later ones were built from vintage radio and television sets.
In 1988, Paik erected a media tower, called "The more the better," from 1,003 monitors for the Olympic Games at Seoul. Paik was left partially paralyzed by a stroke in 1996, reports the AP.
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