Nam June Paik: Video Works 1963–88

Hayward Gallery

Hayward Gallery, 29 September – 11 December 1988

A Video Art Pioneer
In 1988 the Hayward Gallery staged Britain’s first full-scale presentation of video art by the Korean-born artist Nam June Paik. A pioneer of video art, Paik first began modifying TV sets in 1963. In 1965, he was one of the very first artists to produce work on a portable video-recorder. The exhibition, which was organised by the Arts Council’s Gerlinde Gabriel and designed by the architects Stanton Williams, ran concurrently with both The Tiger Rugs of Tibet and Eisenstein at Ninety. 
Paik’s ‘Family of Robots’
Paik’s solo exhibition at the Hayward Gallery wasn’t a retrospective. Instead, it focussed on the artist’s video sculptures and video-tapes. The main focus of the exhibition was Paik’s Family of Robots (1986): a series of mechanical sculptures constructed from vintage TV sets. The exhibition at the Hayward Gallery was the last time that this ‘family’ was shown together, before they were separated in order to enter a public and private collections.

For this solo exhibition Paik recreated V-Matrix (1983– 88), a large-scale sculpture built from 55 TV sets, first built in 1983. Playing across these TV sets were three different recordings featuring Paik’s friend and collaborator Joseph Beuys, who at the time of the exhibition was only recently deceased.

Technical diagram showing the construction of V-Matrix.

In the first room of the exhibition visitors encountered Paik’s early work, Fish TV (1975– 88): in front of a line of ten TV sets – each playing a stream of layered, multicoloured images – was a line of fish tanks filled with live guppy fish.

Internal Memo about a customer complaint regarding Fish TV.

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