Nam June Paik: Look out for the laser!
16 December 2010
Nam June Paik has been described by many as the forefather of media video art. Here at FACT, as leading purveyors of new media art and a direct legacy of Paik, we are very excited to be presenting his work alongside Tate Liverpool in an exhibition that opens tomorrow. Alongside housing an exhibition that is so fundamental to FACT’s ethos, we are also installing some amazing works that tie in with 2010 being the 50th year of the laser.\r\n
Paik’s fantastic piece Laser Cone has come to FACT’s Gallery 1, and a laser link has also been installed between Tate and FACT to symbolise the collaboration between the two galleries.\r\n
The word laser is actually an acronym; it stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Nam June Paik undertook a residency with Bell labs, who were the inventors of the laser. It was here that he created his 1966 piece Digital Experiment at Bell Labs, exploring the stark contrast between digital and analogue and his fascination with technology in its material form. His work with Bell set the precedent for artists and musicians to start using technology creatively in a new way.\r\n
Bell encouraged musicians to use computers for composing music, which Paik’s contemporary, John Cage was involved with as they helped him to create a mixer for his avant garde music. As Paik was interested in pushing technological boundaries and their relationship to art with his other works, his time at Bell influenced him to use lasers within art. He was one of the first artists to ever use lasers in this way.
Nam June Paik in collaboration with Norman Ballard
Laser Cone, 2001/2010
© Estate of Nam June Paik and Norman Ballard
Photographed by Stefan Arendt, LVR / Medienzentrum Düsseldorf
At FACT you can lie on the floor of Gallery 1 and relax under the canopy of rainbow coloured lasers for maximum enjoyment of Laser Cone. The laser link between FACT and Tate will be switched on at dusk every evening for the duration of the exhibition. Commissioned by FACT, the laser is the work of Liverpool based artist Peter Appleton, who was also behind the laser which joined the Anglican and Metropolitan cathedrals in Liverpool in 2008.\r\n
The laser link is symbolic of Nam June Paik’s innovative laser works and represents the collaboration between FACT and Tate.\r\n
Watch this space for interviews with the artists and technicians behind both of the laser installations, and find out more about how they work and what’s involved in installing such ambitious technology.
Laser link between Liverpool's Cathedrals in 2008