Monday, March 27, 2006

There Is No Rewind Button For Life

Upon landing in Bremen, VJ Persona's first stop on the 2006 Professor Everywhere Euro Tour, he is picked up by the World-Historical figure in the field of computer art, Frieder Nake. Nake has recently been experiencing a late-in-life boom of attention on his significant contributions to the field of digital / new media / algorithmic art, and was part of the Stuttgart group who began creating algorithmic art and the physical objects that resulted from algorithmic processes back in the early 60s, when machines were VERY SLOW. Perhaps they should have called it Patience Art back then, since it took days to render what now takes seconds.

So Frieder helps Persona throw his bags into the car and they dart off to the Kunsthalle Bremen, where they have the John "Cage Raum" on permanent display, among other great works, but that is also featuring a show called - which basically translates as 40 Years of German Video Art. The thing is, as far as an art historical retrospective on video art goes, it doesn't get any older than 40 years, and that's because, for all practical purposes, it can be said that video art started here in Germany, around 1963, with Nam June Paik's "Exhibition of Music - Electronic Television" gallery show in the small town of Wuppertal. Now dig this: the show opens with the work that was exhibited in Wuppertal in the early Sixties. A fantastic collection of magnetically distorted and delayed video footage, participatory TV (created by drawing on a table surface with microphones), tape loops, as well as the beginnings of what we would soon call video sculpture, come into view here as does a handwritten freestyle poetics called "Experimental Television" by Nam June Paik himself, a glass encased series of papers where he initializes his emergent video art theory by saying:
A is different from B
but not
A is better than B
sometimes I need red apple
sometimes I need red lips

(which reminds Persona of the Dick Higgins' quotes Professor Everywhere referenced in a recent post, questioning what is new in art, as opposed to feeling the need to create something different, NOW)

The show in Bremen is actually part of five simultaneous shows across Germany (the others are in Leipzig, Dusseldorf, Munich, and the ZKM in Karlsruhe), each city taking on a different decade, and here in Bremen is where it all starts - the 60s. Also on exhibition here is Paik's first "Video Synthesizer" work, a huge interconnected Cable-Hardware Monster, as well as the earliest video art and related work from Wolf Vostell, Joseph Beuys, Jan Dibbets, and Karl Gerstner, to name a few. The entire five-city exhibition is too elaborate to reconstruct in blog space, but believe it or not, that's not the entire story of VJ Persona's arrival in Bremen!

Upon arriving at the Kunsthalle Bremen, Frieder informs Persona that they are just in time for the Nam June Paik memorial/homage entitled There Is No Rewind Button For Life. Paik, who passed away in late January, has already had two other big memorials, one in New York and one in Seoul (he was born in Korea), and now in five minutes will begin his European homage, here in the country where video art was born, and which will be led by Kunsthalle director Wulf Herzogenrath and Paik's nephew Ken Paik Hakuta. As they are whisked into the room, there are about 75 people in attendence, including Paik's widow Shigeko Kubota, along with many early Fluxus artists and early and current video art curators from at least five countries.

In upcoming blog posts, details of some of the more interesting anecdotes told during the ceremony will emerge, as will more excerpts from the handwritten artist theory Paik wrote while inventing his new form of "experimental television" in the early 60s.

Stay tuned.

Metadata: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home