“Through art, many artists state ‘I was here, this is what I thought, and this is what I perceived.’ And by saying so, their works allows us to live in the present and to remain in the pantheon of the future.
A Korean born international video artist, the late Paik Nam-june is a great example of art overcoming death. In addition, K-pop has grown into a popular subculture among teenagers and young adults around the world, resulting in widespread interest in the fashion and style of Korean idol groups and singers.
But how can we set the global identity of our artists in the eternal present And how can our artists last forever as culture-icons That is a problem. Today, we will reinterpret Paik Nam-june’s works in form of art, to find the current status ofKorea's international image after industrialization, and discover how to apply the core new value to K-pop- all for the eternity of our best asset- culture.
The Korean Society of Culture Industry (KSCI) welcomes you to an international symposium, and we hope to engrave our redefined new Korean culture into the hearts of the cosmopolitan,” said Chung Youn-soo Monica, Publisher of Korea IT Times and the Chairwoman of the Korean Society of Culture Industry's first ever International Culture Symposium, to declare the event officially open.
The first ever academic symposium held by the Korean Society of Culture Industry (KSCI) to reevaluate and commemorate Paik Nam-june’s work is significant in that was held on the 79th birthday of late artist. The President of the KSCI, Dr.Doh Myung-kuk invited famous artists, curators, art critics, and scholars from five countries, all of whom are experts on Paik’s lifetime work. He said, “With respect to Paik’s impact on society in the past, now, and future, we will attempt to reevaluate Paik’s life and work as the creator of the video art genre, along with the Fluxus movement. At this first symposium, we will try to understand the role of pop culture in contemporary society. We will focus specifically on whether there exists a liaison between the success of Paik in video art and the recent international success of k-pop by discussing Paik’s use of Korean culture in his work.” By doing so, attendees sought to answer whether contemporary K-pop can develop a synergy with the success of the Korean economy, thus improving the image ofKoreain what has come to be known as Korean brand. “We will have a second symposium in March 2012, and we will continuously seek to answer whether the success of K-pop is sustainable as a mainstream global culture like Paik’s work,” added President Doh.
Reflection on Korean Artist Nam-jun Paik
In honor of the artist’s life, independent curator from Beijing, Huang Du, spoke extensively about Paik’s journey from studying music in Tokyo to being at the forefront of the German avant-garde of the 60’s. He traced his development from training with John Cage and performing with Stockhausen to his move toNew Yorkand his rise as an established artist, leading the Fluxus Movement.
Mr. Du declared that if forced to chose the best Korean artist he would name Paik Nam-june, saying, “He experimentally attempted to mix various artistic elements derived from various fields such as media, technique, popular culture, avant-garde art, among others, and through this unique experimental art, he was recognized as the pioneer of video art internationally."
What is the Modern Image of Japan
A famous Japanese sculptor, Tsutomu Hiroi, was present at the Korean Society of Culture Symposium. Mr. Hiroi, to the delight of the symposium, recalled back to when Paik Nam-june studied atTokyoUniversity. As he shared his works with the attendees, he honored Paik's works as an inspiration. Mr. Hiroi shared howJapanhas developed its modern image.
He said, “Each country has a unique ancient culture. When I was younger, I received a small head sculpture as a gift which was made from jade from my teacher Isamu Nogchi, who was a good friend of Nam-june Paik. He said that it was made beforeColumbusfoundAmerica." He mentioned that he lives next to a construction site, and finds it interesting that modern works and Joulmon pottery, such as his sculpture can exist together in time. "I think this is the modern image ofJapan, where tradition and the modern coexist."
Paik’s influence in perspective
Graeme Murran wove well known Korean artist Nam June Paik’s work and influence into a historical tapestry, mentioning that during Paik's well known performances with German cellist Charlotte Moorman, Eisenhower was warning of the “rise of the industrial military complex”.
He said he was endeared to the inventive wit and playfulness of Cage, and Paik’s musical performances. He told a story of a Cage performance where the composer left the audience waiting and waiting, surprising the audience with a noisy percussive replay of their restlessness after having placed microphones under their seats to record them..
His talk interwove antidotes of art making powerful ecologic and political statements. Mentioning the power of Japanese futurist photography exhibitions he held to point out the changes in the environment due to development. He mentioned his special relationship withKoreaand said, “I hope this continues with inventive and playful wit.”
A Global Artist Considered
Assistant professor fromHongikUniversity, Ingo Baumgarten shared his own personal history with, and the reception of world famous Korean-born artist, Paik Nam-june work inEurope. He pointed out that Nam-june was basically considered a German artist. Mr. Baumgarten said he was born the same year Paik moved toNew York. He mentioned, “Paik’s work has been collected in a lot of museums, with many exhibitions being held inGermany.
He first encountered Paik’s work when he was 18 inVienna. He was fascinated with his ”Prepared Piano”. Paik made it a visual artistic statement, adorning it with nails and barbed wire. Mr. Baumgarten saw in it a criticism of high culture and enjoyed ‘the playful mixture of aggressive humor.”
“Paik’s teachings also had a big impact on the German art scene. From 1978 to 1996, Paik was Professor for sculpture at the famous Dusseldorf Kunstakademie. Hundreds of students studied in his class during those years. Ingo described students’ gossips, the artists’ jokes, and the internal conflicts the artist faced. “In his beginnings, Paik clearly opposed the cultural establishment. But by becoming more and more famous he himself became a part of the establishment he tended to attack in his earlier years. Such development tends to cause some internal conflicts which often articulate themselves in cynical attitudes as I just described. But in general I think that Paik coped well with that conflict, giving grace to his very special subversive and creative humor. He was able to combine those opposing positions within himself, and his work."
Korea's Music Industry in the Digital Age
The head of the Korea Creative Industry Research Institute, Ko Jung-min, added a voice at the symposium as well. Professor Ko said, “The music industry is overcoming its third crisis - the illegal downloading,” The first he noted was radio broadcasting, and the second, TV. He attributes the globalization of K-pop, dubbed “Hallyu” or Korean wave as an attempt to capture market share to make up for revenue absent due to illegal downloading.
He projected, “In order for Hallyu to survive …and continue its fever, international copyrights, penetration into theU.S.market, diversification of revenue sources, overcoming of anti-Hallyu, and bilateral exchange are needed.”
The panel discussion summarized the theme of this first ever academic meeting between, Nam June Paik and K-Pop. The symposium left an impression to many visitors that such a global artist as Paik was too little known in his home country ofKorea. And in order to not repeat the same mistake, the KSCI plans to continuously facilitate the process of defining the contemporary image ofKoreaafter its industrialization and economic success through this assembly.