Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV review – engaging film about the video art pioneer
Amanda Kim’s documentary encapsulates the disruptive work of the Korean American artist, who was years ahead of his time
The Korean-born video art pioneer Nam June Paik once said: “I use technology in order to hate it properly.” It’s a great quote, but the truth, as this engrossing documentary makes clear, is more complex. From his early forays as an avant-garde musician who dragged a violin on a string around the streets, to his TV and video distortions, Paik (1932-2006) was all about disrupting means of communication. It’s not hard to understand why. Communication was a daily struggle for the artist, who, as one interviewee recalls, “spoke 20 languages, all exceedingly badly”.
This very enjoyable film explores his extensive body of work, much of it daringly ahead of its time; it was Paik who, long before the concept of the internet had taken root, first broached the idea of an electronic superhighway.