Nam June Paik

  • Something about Nothing

    RAY JOHNSON STARTED mail art some 35 years ago. Now everyone’s doing E-mail art.

    Did Ray go away because he couldn’t stand the proliferation—the vulgarization—of his cherished medium? His last message to me was on my phone machine a couple of years ago: “It’s Pablo speaking.” And he hung up.

    Ray Johnson learned something about “nothing” from John Cage back in the Black Mountain College days in the early ’50s. The problem was that he learned it too well. “When you negate everything, why not negate careerism too?” Twice in the early ’60s Ray turned down one-man-show offers from a very prominent


    THE EAST EUROPEAN REVOLUTION produced a playwright-president, Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, but few people know that it also produced a Fluxus-president: Vytautas Landsbergis, the president of Lithuania. During the spring of 1990, the image of this bespectacled and stoop-shouldered “music professor” paraded across the TV news every day. He successfully defied the blockade of Soviet power and the “benevolent” advice of the Western press to go slow lest he destroy the superpower summit. When Gorbachev received the Nobel Prize, Landsbergis sent him a congratulatory telegram: “Your Majesty. . .

  • Random Access Information

    WE HAVE A THING called art and we have a thing called communication, and sometimes their curves overlap. (A lot of art does not have much to do with communication and a lot of communication has no artistic content.) In the middle there is something like an appleseed, and that is our theme—maybe our dream, too. When we look back at the history of communication, the problem until recently has been how to record information. At first people recorded on clay plates or in stone. Before that “plus” information was memory, “minus” information was forgetting, and if we do not forget, we cannot record.