“The Worlds Of Nam June Paik”

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

TO HOW MANY OF US is it given to attend the birth of a medium and to witness its institutionalization as—what else?—an “art form”? In the early ’60s, anyone who held in his or her hands a brown, flexible, two-inch-wide piece of videotape on which information was electronically coded had to have a sense of the miraculous. Play it back: There was the moving image shot a moment before—flat, factual, fibrillating, lightstruck. By the late ’60s, the portapak camera had put the means of production (then a vaguely Marxist phrase) in the hands of media artists working across the broad band from the documentary to the experimental. “Public Access” was not so much a slogan as the war cry of a marginal (and at the time despised) community insisting on being seen and heard. From its incubation in the counterculture, video had a radical, idealistic program. The common enemy? The three network monoliths,

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