Something like an Appleseed

The title is taken from “Random Access Information,” a 1980 lecture by Paik organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In that lecture, the artist described the overlap between art and communication as being “something like an appleseed.” The “appleseed” here is a metaphor for unprecedented possibilities that may arise when art and communication come together, with the artist describing the potential for video as a new medium and a record of time.

Exhibition Something like an Appleseed
Date 27.04.2023 - 25.02.2024
Curator Cho Kwonjin
Venue Nam June Paik Art Center, Korea
All images Courtesy of Nam June Paik Art Center

Artists: Nam June Paik, Mary Bauermeister, Allan Kaprow, Manfred Leve, Manfred Montwé, Otto Piene, James Seawright, Thomas Tadlock, Aldo Tambellini, Jud Yalkut.

This exhibition encourages viewers to consider how we can nurture this seed to sprout in a day and age when information can be accessed at any time across boundaries of time and space. Something like an Appleseed also includes a chronology that offers viewers an overall glimpse at Paik’s life and artistic journey. The chronology has been newly organized to offer a clear understanding of Paik’s art, including the work he produced while immersing himself in experimental composition and performance activities in Germany; his full-fledged television and video art activities in the US; and his travels around the world for large-scale exhibitions and global projects. To provide an even better understanding of Paik’s body of work, the chronology also includes his activities with various collaborators and sources of inspiration to him, as well as the texts that he wrote during major periods of artistic creation.

Viewers also have the opportunity to see Paik’s works Random Access Audio Tape and Audio Tape Head with Extension for the first time ever in a Korean exhibition. Newly acquired by the Nam June Paik Art Center in 2022, these works are recreations of Random Access, which was shown at Paik’s first solo exhibition Exposition of Music – Electronic Television in 1963. They offer insights toward understanding Paik’s early work as they capture the ideas of an artist who manipulated the structure of time and foresaw video’s potential as a random access medium. Another element that makes the exhibition special is the way the artwork has been presented to aid understanding of Paik’s artistic methods. The internal structures of his artwork have been opened up in an exhibition format that offers an intuitive experience with the creative properties of Paik’s technology and each stage of communication involved in it, including original ideas, participation, and feedback. One of the key works exhibited here is Piano & Letters, which consists of around 100 letters exchanged by Paik and fellow artist Mary Bauermeister beginning in 1962, along with fragments from a piano used in a performance at Bauermeister’s studio in Cologne. At the time, these letters were the only means available for them to share news with each other. They include frank and friendly dialogues along with images hand-drawn by Paik. The exhibition also features a rare glimpse at Moon Is the Oldest TV, an expansion of the experimental TV from Paik’s first solo exhibition into a total of 13 televisions. The work calls to mind how the moon served to connect people together in the days when there was no television. The exhibition further presents Bye Bye Kipling, a 1986 satellite-based project that linked continents across the Pacific, bidding farewell to Rudyard Kipling and his claim that the East and the West could never meet. Marco Polo, an award-winning work at the 1993 Venice Biennale, symbolizes communication between different cultures through the historical figure of the title, who traveled between East and West.

You may also like