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Mr. Kim

Nam June Paik

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, South, 2nd floor
The groundbreaking artist Nam June Paik experimented with video, performance, and transmission technologies throughout his career. For three decades he made sculptures, called Robots, composed of video screens set in discarded televisions, radios, and other household goods. These robots address issues of modernity and dynamism: with their vintage parts, they express a quaint vision of the future that was replaced long ago, and while the robots themselves do not move, the videos playing inside them move constantly. Through this contrast, Paik expresses a common theme that appears throughout his work: that the future of art and technology lies not in solid things but in temporal communications.

Unlike most of Nam Jun Paik’s Robots, this piece is a portrait. It depicts Kim Yangsoo, an impresario and art collector based in Seoul.
MEDIUM Mixed media: vintage radio cases, digital video screens, lightbulbs, wood, pigment
DATES 1997
DIMENSIONS 36 1/4 x 12 5/8 x 31 1/2 in. (92 x 32 x 80 cm)
INSCRIPTIONS 김양수 군 경기 따라지 – Kim Yangsoo Goon Gyeonggi Follower (The inscription refers to the fact that Kim Yangsoo, the subject of the sculpture and its donor, attended the same high school, at Gyeonggi, as Paik had, but several years later. "Goon" is a term for a young friend.)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Kim Yangsoo
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A "Robot" in the shape of a man standing on one foot with two arms raised, composed of six vintage radio cases, two of which have video screens set inside and two of which have light bulbs. The radio bodies are connected by a wood frame that surrounds the central piece. The head and body of the figure are radio cases in red plastic, molded to look like East Asian carved lacquer. Both were made by DuMont Labs (USA) and date to about 1956. The central video screen is set into the space that once held a clock. The videos are identical, and play simultaneously on a loop. They consist of collaged snippets of found footage of nude models, with periodic red target-like graphics radiating across the screen. The figure is said to be a portrait of the donor, Kim Yangsoo, an art collector based in Seoul. Kim met the artist in the early 1990s when Paik had his first major retrospective in Korea. An inscription painted loosely on the sides of the radio housings contains a dedication to Kim Yangsoo.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, South, 2nd floor
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