Nam June Paik Art Center, the world’s only museum dedicated to the Korea-born video art master, has unveiled the artist’s early work “Random Access Audio Tape” for the first time in South Korea after acquiring the piece last year.
The exhibition “Something Like an Appleseed” at the museum in Gyeonggi Province was inspired by Paik’s 1980 lecture titled “Random Access Information” which was organized by curator Barbara London of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“We have a thing called art and we have a thing called communication, and sometimes their curves overlap. In the middle there is something like an apple seed, and that is our theme -- maybe our dream too,” Paik was quoted by the museum.
The newly acquired “Random Access Audio Tape” was shown at an exhibition in Dusseldorf in 1975. Consisting of a chipboard to which magnetic tapes are attached and a playback head connected to a portable cassette player, the work offers a glimpse of Paik’s early artistic career.
The piece acquired by the museum is a modified version of the original created in 1963. When it was presented under the title “Random Access” at Paik's solo exhibition at Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany, visitors with a metal tape-head that head been separated from a playback equipment could scrape an unwound magnetic tape and listen to the sound.
“The work is meaningful since we can better understand Paik’s early art through it. We bought the work last year from a collector in Germany. While this is its first presentation in South Korea, it was shown at Paik’s exhibition at Tate Modern a few years ago,” said Kim Seong-eun, the museum director.
The exhibition also shows a conversation with Paik and his close friend Ryuichi Sakamoto, a Japanese composer who died in March. The conversation between the two artists include their agony over creating visual art and music.
"What will come into the picture from now on is the music you see versus the music you listen to. We are making viewable music, and this is unprecedented," Pays said in the video.
"Some of Sakamoto's fans visited the exhibition to see the work when the exhibition opened last month," Kim said.
At the entrance to the exhibition is Paik's "Marco Polo," which was created in 1993, presenting a historical figure who moved across the East and the West. The work consists of six television sets displaying quickly changing images of Eastern and Western architectures and abstract electronic images that resemble an atomic fission.
The exhibition runs through Feb.12, 2024.