IJSSH 2016 Vol.6(11): 896-899 ISSN: 2010-3646
doi: 10.18178/ijssh.2016.V6.768

Rewriting the Origin of New Media: History and Postcoloniality in Nam June Paik’s Video Art

Koonyong Kim
Abstract—This essay draws together new media studies and postcolonial/ethnic studies, two academic disciplines often thought to have little in common, in order to cast new light on the work of Korean-born video artist Nam June Paik. Paik has been considered the “founding father of video art” and is often said to have expanded the concept of contemporary art and new media aesthetics. However, his video art has often been regarded as an ahistorical postmodern art form in contemporary theoretical discourse. This brief and preliminary intervention challenges that widely-held view and offers a new historical understanding of postmodern new media by excavating his relatively unknown career as a postcolonial composer. By paying close attention to Paik’s musical work and his critical engagement with Western composers such as Schoenberg, I demonstrate how his deconstruction of modern and postmodern music in the West paved the way for his own invention of postmodern video as a “postmusical” narrative. I also consider Paik’s postcolonial rewriting of Korean history, as well as his thematization of a contemporary global economy that is underpinned and facilitated by transnational networks of information, communication, and cultural formations. In doing so, I contextualize the genealogy of Paik’s oeuvre within the complex constellation of modernity, coloniality, postmodernity, and postcoloniality, and thereby unpack the multilayered and palimpsestichistoricity of postmodern visual art.

Index Terms—Nam June Paik, new media, postcolonial, postmodernism.

The author is with the Department of English at the University of San Diego, CA, USA (e-mail: kykim@sandiego.edu).

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Cite: Koonyong Kim, "Rewriting the Origin of New Media: History and Postcoloniality in Nam June Paik’s Video Art," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 6, no. 11, pp. 896-899, 2016.

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