Nam June Paik (1932-2006), best known as the founder of video art, was a master representative of the 21st century contemporary art. Born in 1932 in Seoul, he studied music, philosophy and art history in Japan and Germany, and worked actively in Germany and New York. Even before the emergence of the Internet, he has created the artwork that connects global people throughout television, and suggested that technology and media would be the means of going to the utopian world. Moreover, he has visualized the new aesthetic concept through the reciprocal effect and harmony between nature, human and technology.
In 1963, Nam June Paik had his first solo exhibition Music-Electronic Television at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, the Western German City. It was a bold and experimental exhibition reconstructing televisions from musical instruments. Paik used TV monitors as his canvas. He visualized sound with electronic waves and distorted broadcasting images as if they were moving paintings. Even eminent critics had a hard time understanding and interpreting his television receivers into artworks, but Paik pioneered a new genre of video art. After moving to New York in 1946, he met Charlotte Moorman, who was known in the New York art world through performances that integrates with music, art and technology. In 1967, Paik and Moorman were arrested in the middle of a performance of Opera Sextronique for reasons of "indecent exposure." When he triumphed in court, his performance gained legal recognition as having artistic value and Paik rose to stardom for liberating art expression that had been long oppressed.
He had a first solo exhibition in 1973 at the Syracuse Evans Art Institute in New York and he held a successful solo exhibition in 1982 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1984, his first satellite broadcast project, Good Morning Mr. Orwell, succeeded in reaching 25 million international viewers at once. By realizing two additional phase broadcast project in 1986 and 1988, he demonstrated the importance of "Communication culture through technology" which he had been long asserting.
Nam June Paik used various media such as TV and video, media and technology, painting, drawing, performance, installation and incorporating diverse art categories. He attended the Venice Biennale for the first time in 1985 and at the same biennale in 1993; he received the honorable Golden Lion Award. During the '90's, he created Dadaicsun, the large installation projects utilizing 1003 monitors, Electronic Superhighway comprised of 313 monitors with 47 different channels, and W3 that had foreseen the today's web-culture. A final retrospective of his work was held in 2000 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York where he exhibited electric laser works such as the Three Element. Through this exhibition, Paik's status as an artist became fixed, both in name and reality, as being the most internationally innovative and ultramodern. Even after he passed away in 2006, his innovative art world has been represented in many famous museums including at the Smithsonian in 2013, Asia Society of Rockefeller Collection and Tate Modern in 2014.