Nam June Paik

Zen for TV


Artist / Artist group
Nam June Paik
Zen for TV
sculpture, video
Material / Technique
manipulated CRT television set
Dimensions / Duration
66 x 61,5 x 47 cm
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

Nothing but a bright, vertical line can be seen on the dark screen of a television set that has been tilted 90°. The screen here is an invitation to meditate, rather than a source of distraction through flickering television images. »Zen for TV« is one of numerous works in which the Koranic video artist Nam June Paik (1932–2006) confronted video technology with the principles of Zen Buddhism.

Paik first showed »Zen for TV« in his 1963 exhibition "Exposition of Music, Electronic Television" at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal. One of the television sets that was to be exhibited was damaged during transport to the gallery and only showed a horizontal line. Paik, who used chance as an artistic principle, turned the television set on its side and called it »Zen for TV«. He then repeated this effect on other sets through a technical intervention in the control of the electron beam.

The version of »Zen for TV« in the ZKM collection was created in 1986 by the conceptual artist Ecke Bonk after Paik had shown him in Düsseldorf how the CRT tube had to be manipulated.

Author: Judith Bihr

About the artist/s