Academic Conferences at, BFX 2015 Conference

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Four Kinds of Dynamic Viewing: The Layout of Media Criticism from Nam June Paik
guo chunning

Last modified: 2015-09-23


Through a process of collecting art works as archives into their respective spaces, museums and galleries have rebuilt themselves as spaces related to viewing from the aspect of political discourse. Furthermore, video art is being “cut” and reconstructed according to the vision of the audience and the author. In the context of dynamic viewing: art works, the author and the audience form a cohesive whole that functions as a media criticism with multiple layers of consideration.

This paper focuses on studies of the layout of media criticism from Nam June Paik. The art exploration of viewing actually gives direction to spiritual critics.

Firstly, media criticism is not one-way and closed: In “The Worlds of Nam June Paik”, an exhibition in The Guggenheim Museum in 2000, “Jacob's ladder” revealed a miracle made by lights and TV. By critically pointing out that TV had become the new idol of modern society through image consumption, this work has turned into an art spectacle. May we ask, if the work were not displayed in a museum, would it still shine as art glory?


Secondly, this paper categorizes the works of Nam June Paik into four kinds of dynamic viewing. From the surface, the differences of the first two are concerning direction. In actuality horizontal and vertical viewing combine as a cross: the spiritual dimension and the diversity of media criticism. “The Moon is the Oldest TV”(1965)offered a way of horizontal dynamic viewing, and the audience finished the media criticism about Moon as a symbol of poetry (from Oriental Culture) and the space race (from Western Culture) in this example, walking works in conjunction with viewing to create movement.  “Tower” (2001) could be regarded as a full stop on vertical dynamic viewing, as a form of spiritual worship from a believer’s point of view.


The third dynamic viewing encourages the spiritual dialogue and imagination between the audience and the works through the metaphor that is TV, such as 1970s’ “TV Garden”. From 1980s’ “Video Jungle” to 1990s’“W3”, Nam June Paik revealed the fourth way of dynamic viewing by destroying the “Geographic territory” of the TV kingdom. The desire of free watching sets up a new utopia, this is a forecast of online viewing and the ultimate media criticism of the illusion formed by TV.



Intermedia Practices, Transmedia, Media Archaeology