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“Tv Garden” by Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik in "TV-Garden"

“In TV Garden (1974), the artist combines a myriad of live plants with dozens of single channel video monitors nestled amongst them. The monitors show a multitude of scenes with discombobulated sounds. The result is a surrealistic collage that creates an unexpected blend of technology and nature, a commingling of disparate elements that jolts the mind.” 1.

“120 television monitors appear like exotic blooms in a luxuriant garden of 600 plants. Nature, technology and art enter into a poetic union. The coloured pictorial treasure trove on the television screens is derived from the film composition Global Groove. In 1973 Paik, assisted by the Japanese designer Shuya Abe, created a synthesiser which could manipulate and transform existing film material. Instead of delivering banal everyday entertainment, the television takes on a creative role and invites the public to enter into the real space of a quasi-natural experience. In this artificial natural setting, technology provides humans with the basis for their own creative contemplation. With the acquisition of one of the three versions of the most famous multi-tv installations by the pioneer of video art, born in Korea in 1932, Paik has come a step closer to realising his wish to create an American, an Asian and a European version.” 2.

“Paik’s first large-scale installation TV-Garden is made up by some thirty television sets lying on the floor among a large number of tropical plants. The furiously edited Global Groove video playing on the screens of the TV sets flickers and flashes through the mesh of green. Ambivalent like most of Paik’s works, this one leaves open the question of whether we are dealing with a symbiosis of nature and technology, or whether the new media are leading us back into the jungle with their disordered mass of rampant images.” 3.

Paik's "TV Garden"The replacement of media into another environment can also be seen in The Influence Machine by Tony Oursler, which project images of heads and knocking hands onto trees, accompanied by sounds, thereby creating a sense of ghostly presence in urban vegetation. Paik and Ousler draw parallels in these works, the first between media and the jungle, the latter between electronic and paranormal comunication.

Like Paik’s TV Garden, his Video Flag has three different versions, respectively X, Y and Z. This collection of works just as TV Garden uses many tv-screens to raise our consciousness on contemporary media, the compulsively flickering screens draw a parallel to our media culture. In much of his art Paik seeks to expres the media and electronics by drawing parallels, for instance between cybernetics and Buddhist philosophy, as in his 1966 writing Cybernated Art. (AEM 198)

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