1998Arts and PhilosophyArts (Painting, Sculpture, Craft, Architecture, Photography, Design, etc.)
Nam June Paik photo

Nam June Paik

  • U. S. A. / 1932-2006
  • Media artist

An Artist Who Launched the Field of ”Media Art” With His Inventive Use of Image Media in Modern Art

Mr. Paik, an artist representing this high-tech age, has always been a pioneer, opening up new and rich worlds of creation, providing his contemporaries with visions and dreams. To modern art, he introduced the genre now known as ”video art,” which he then developed into ”media art.”
*This category then was Category of Creative Arts and Moral Sciences.
*This field then was Field of Arts (Painting, Sculpture, Design, Architecture).


Brief Biography

Born in Seoul, South Korea
Moved to Hong Kong and later to Japan
Graduated from the University of Tokyo (Arts, the History of Art, Faculty of Literature) and later moved to Germany
Studied the History of Music at Munich University
Produced video art with John Cage (The Laureate of the 1989 Kyoto Prize) and others
Activities to found a new genre of video art
The first solo exhibition, Germany, later held solo exhibition in various parts of the world
Moved to New York
Retrospective Show ”Twenty years of Nam June Paik’s Video Art”, the Whitney Museum of American, New York
”Mostly Video”, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo
”Nam June Paik: Video-Time-Video-Space”, Kunsthalle Basel, Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland, Pompidow Center, France
”Nam June Paik: Retrospective” Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, South Korea
”The Open-air Sculpture Exhibition” M nster, Germany

Selected Awards and Honors

Kaiserring Prize, Monchehaus Museum, Germany
UNESCO Picasso Medal
The Gold Lion Award for the best pavilion, the 45th Venice Biennale
The Ho-Am Prize, South Korea

Major Works


Robot K-456


Video image from ”A Tribute to John Cage”


Video Card ”Piano duet by J. Beuys and Nam June Paik”


”Good Morning Mr. Orwell” live satellite program


”Bye Bye Kipling” live satellite program


”The more the better” Seoul Olympic


”Tele-commuting: From Bali to Broadway”






An Artist Who Launched the Field of ”Media Art” With His Inventive Use of Image Media in Modern Art

Mr. Nam June Paik is the most outstanding figure in creative arts of this high-technology age. A completely new genre called “video art” was introduced to the world of modern art by Mr. Paik. He later developed it to a further innovative art form that is now familiar as “media art.” Thanks to his works, his contemporaries have found new visions; he has made possible new realms of creation.

During the 1960’s Mr. Paik originated performance art using TV monitors, and joined an international artist group,”Fluxus.” With John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Mr. Paik produced “video art” and became a leading artist in that field. Since then, he has been creating various “installation” works as a pioneer of contemporary media installations.

Modern technology has been developed in pursuit of its practical advantages, including its contribution to convenience and economic efficiency. As a result, human sensibilities and perception systems are greatly affected. Under such circumstances, Mr. Paik believes in the necessity of “humanizing” technology through art, and has transformed television from a one-way medium of providing information to a means of expressing human creativity.

Various real-time interactive communication projects using broadcasting satellites were produced based on his media concept. “Good morning, Mr. Orwell,” the first of such projects, was broadcasted in 1984. In this project, Mr. Paik demonstrated the possibility of using media as a new communication means, in contrast with the prospect of George Orwell, who depicted media-controlled future society in his novel “1984.” In 1986, Mr. Paik produced another TV project that linked New York, Tokyo and Seoul. This program, titled “Bye Bye Kipling,” was his reply to Kipling, who wrote in his work that the East and West could never understand each other. In this program, Mr. Paik refuted the Eastern view of “incompatible West” and the Western view of “incomprehensible East,” and attempted to build a global communication network. His project created a sensation. Mr. Paik focused on a computer’s most important function as a means of communication, before even scientists could properly handle this strategic role of a computer. He attempted to materialize McLuhan’s concept of environmental art by means of the various functions of computers, greatly affecting the world of modern art, as well as traditional philosophy and sociology, which had been unable to cope with the computer age. In other words, he prepared a perfect model of the internet.

Mr. Paik’s lifelong ambitions include building global communication networks that involve people worldwide, and seeking mutual understanding among peoples of different cultures. Underlying his pursuit of these themes are his difficult time under severe political situations in his home country, South Korea, and his identity as an Asian. Through his efforts in pursuit of his ambitions, he has contributed to the diversification of artistic forms, and helped restore the fundamental function of art, thereby imparting new philosophical objectives to science and technology.

For these reasons, the Inamori Foundation is pleased to bestow upon Mr. Nam June Paik the 1998 Kyoto Prize in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences.


Abstract of the Lecture

Norbert Wiener and Marshal McLuhan - Communication Revolution

We will study the texts of Norbert Wiener and Marshal McLuhan and discover the common denominator between the two thinkers (Mix-media… simulation of electronics and human nerve system… indeterminism…). Wiener used these characteristics as the micro-form to construct the technical interior of the electronic age, whereas McLuhan used them as the macro-form to interpret the psychological and sociological exterior of the electronic age.

World peace and survival of the earth is public interest number 1 and must be interest number 1 of public television.What we need now is a champion of free trade, who will form a Video Common Market modeled after the European Common Market in it’s spirit and procedure. McLuhan’s premature high hope for the Global Village via TV is based on an obscure book, “The Bias of Communication”, by H. A. Innis (1951) which traced the origin of nationalism to the invention of movable type. But, ironically, today’s video culture is far more nationalistic than print media. You cannot escape Camus or Sartre in a book store. But do you remember seeing a production of French TV recently? TV cameras are so busily following the latest outbreaks of violence that kids, who receive most of their education from TV, think that Switzerland and Norway are chunks of real estate lying somewhere in the Milky Way.

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Artist Linking Asia and the World

Nov. 12, 1998, 13:20-17:30
Coordinator and Moderator
Junji Ito, Member, the Kyoto Prize Screening Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences; Art Critic


OpeningGreetings Toyomi Inamori
Managing Director, the Inamori Foundation
Introduction of Laureate Shuji Takashina
Chairman, the Kyoto Prize Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences; Director, National Museum of Western Art
”From the Asia, from the Planet”
Commemorative Lecture Nam June Paik, Laureate
”Global Groove and the Video Common Market”
Lecture Katsuhiro Yamaguchi
Media Artist
”Nam June Paik, a Leading Figure in Media Art”
Media Live ”Global Celebration”
On-Line video messages arrive from well-known figures in the art world from around the world to commemorate the prize won by Nam June Paik, pioneer artist of the Internet age.
Lecture Young Soon Kim
Director, Dae-Yu Foundation of Culture
”Nam June Paik in the Korean Contemporary Arts”
Forum ”Paik by Paik: Globally Simultaneous Avant-garde”
Junji Ito
Nam June Paik
Toshi Ichiyanagi, Musician
Toshio Matsumoto, Vice President, Kyoto University of Arts and Design