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music

Nam June Paik

NAM JUNE PAIK IS OFTEN PICTURED with an instrument: banging his head on a piano; dragging a violin along the ground; stretching a string across his back, to be bowed by cellist Charlotte Moorman. What these images share with many of Paik’s multimedia works is the sense of a dreamed art-they represent a music that isn’t heard, necessarily, but whose effect might be even greater than music that is. With television, the distance between Nam June Paik’s dreams and reality seems starker: Works such as Zen for T. V., 1963, Moon Is the Oldest T.V., 1965, T.V. Buddha, 1974, and Candle T.V., 1975, introduce possibilities that the medium not only has never possessed, but probably can’t. Paik’s musical ideas are no less striking, but they are closer to the reality we know: Instruments are built along the lines of the body; musicians do attack them with violence and caress them with love; musical

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