October was Nam June Paik’s month. Work by the Korean artist from the 1990’s bridging technology, art and human beings filled the stand of the Gallery Hyundai from Seoul at Frieze London in one of the best displays of the Fair, and then, later in the month, the major and extensive exhibition of his work opened at Tate Modern, covering his career spanning over 50 years.
The range of June Paik’s work on show at Tate Modern is amazing and confirms what a genius he was, from his early experimental work using televisions to collaborations with musicians John Cage and Charlotte Moorman, choreographer Merce Cunningham and fellow artist Joseph Beuys, and concluding with two installations ‘One Candle (Candle Projection)’ and ‘Sistine Chapel’, which couldn’t be more different from each other, ‘One Candle’ projecting refracted real-time televised images of a single flickering flame which moves and twists from the air movement of people in the room; the ‘Sistine Chapel’ being a totally immersive experience originally created using 42 projectors in collaboration with artist Hans Haacke for the German Pavilion at the 1993 Venice Biennale.
In this digital era with increasing use of AI, June Paik’s philosophies relating to increased connectivity across the world, bridging of cultures and of technology, art and the human condition, continue to resonate strongly today,
Move a floor away from the exhibition and you find a blue-bathed room with a tall tower of old radios transmitting quietly in different languages. Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles’s ‘Babel’ is an interesting contrast, also connecting technology, art and human beings, in this case focussed on increased connectivity and globalisation despite the many different languages across the world – an estimated 7,000 in total!