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Nam June Paik Spoke To Me (from the other side)

Self Portrait Nam June Paik 1989 television housing with bronze mask of artist and other media 24 by 27 inches

What did he say to me? I may have been hearing things but his art did inspire me to pursue art. It was the physical presence the life in the art piece that inspired me to go deeper.

It began in Vermont 2012 at Twin Farms Resort. In their game room was an intriguing piece of art on display. It was sculpture made from old televisions in a multi-media extravaganza of flashing early video art.

It is called “Internet Dweller”. Why was internet in its name as this is obviously a bunch of televisions?

From Twin Farms Resort Website

That week I absorbed a coffee table book of Nam June Paik’s work. I learned of his impact on video art, the fluxus movement and public television. His many multi channel video art pieces. And also his coining of the phrase Electronic Super highway. I found his work playful and he would experiment until he got something that worked visually. Many of his early works allowed for people to interact with the work by turning knobs or running a cassette tape head over magnetic tape stuck to the wall.

I began researching more of Nam June Paik’s work with a focus on this Internet Dweller in particular. I found reports that there was more than one of them. It was part of a show called “The Electronic Superhighway: Travels with Nam June Paik” and “The Electronic Superhighway: Nam June Paik in the 90s” The show ran between 1994 – 1998 and contained the famous “Nam June Paik, Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii” 51 channel piece.

As I searched I discovered more of these mask like faces and realized each of them had a unique name. A name that sort of looks like a domain name.

It turns out that this exhibition was based on a paper Nam June Paik wrote in 1971 called “Media Planning for the Postindustrial Society – The 21st Century is now only 26 years away” where he requested a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for funding to build a electronic superhighway for artists.

For years I have searched for the Internet Dwellers. It would be amazing to own all of them. One source said there are twelve of them.

Internet Dweller jshmha.one.whkbrb
Internet Dweller jshmha.one.whkbrb
Internet Dweller efpn.two.cvaph
Internet Dweller efpn.two.cvaph
Internet Dweller: mpbd.three.cgsspv
Internet Dweller: mpbd.three.cgsspv
Internet Dweller iwuh.four.hsts
Internet Dweller iwuh.four.hsts
Internet Dweller: wol.five.ydpb Work in Progress provided by Mark Patsfall
Internet Dweller: wol.five.ydpb Work in Progress provided by Mark Patsfall
Internet Dweller wol.five.ydpb from https://cmaygallery.com/namjunepark
Internet Dweller sw.six.sa
Internet Dweller sw.six.sa
Internet Dweller drjh.seven.hsdgpg
Internet Dweller drjh.seven.hsdgpg
Internet Dweller csjd.eight.adm from Clay Street Press
Internet Dweller csjd.eight.adm from Clay Street Press
Internet Dweller gd.nine.azab from Clay Street Press
Internet Dweller gd.nine.azab from Clay Street Press
Internet Dweller mpbdcg.ten.sspv
Internet Dweller mpbdcg.ten.sspv
Internet Dweller skaz.eleven.cmsw
Internet Dweller skaz.eleven.cmsw
Internet Dweller btjm.twelve.jhgd
Internet Dweller btjm.twelve.jhgd

But in reality there are thirteen. Only later did I learn the reason why. The Carl Solway Gallery was working with Paik to sell his works in the US and they helped with this traveling exhibition. I was able to contact Carl, asking for pictures of all The Internet Dwellers. He quickly responded with the name of Mark Patsfall of Clay Street Press.

Internet Dweller jwsg.thirteen.xulf
Internet Dweller jwsg.thirteen.xulf

Mark was able to find the remaining images of the Internet Dwellers that have have not appeared in online sources yet. Mark informed me that as the exhibition traveled around collectors would purchase an Internet Dweller. Then Nam June Paik and his fabricators would produce a new one and put it on display. In the video catalog of “The Electronic Super Highway: Jam June Paik in the Nineties” five of the Internet Dwellers are shown displayed on one wall.

Five Internet Dwellers on exhibition

The art of Nam June Paik really spoke to me because I could understand it. It was a material and medium I was familiar with. I had often tinkered with electronics and had a career as a programmer. It said that art does not have to be perfect. Paik’s emergence from the Fluxus art movement also told me that anyone can make art and anything can be art.

Somehow my first encounter with the Internet Dweller had spoken to me. The internet dweller is Nam June Paik and he said:

You are an artist

Global Reality is an art piece I made inspired by the video technique of Nam June Paik.