Buddha Watching TV (Translation)
“The real issue implied in “Art and Technology” is not to make another scientific toy, but how to humanize the technology and the electronic medium, which is progressing rapidly—too rapidly.” —Nam June Paik
Paik, undoubtedly the single most important figure in the history of video art, established the medium in the early 1960s. Buddha Watching TV comes from one of his most celebrated video sculpture series. Paik created the original concept in 1974 and made this example in 1997.
Here a stone Buddha head from Indonesia, partially embedded in dirt and signed dramatically across the back by Paik in Chinese and English, appears to observe itself on television. A live image of the unchanging head is continuously relayed to the monitor by the closed-circuit camera on the tripod. The Buddha thus generates and receives its own image in an infinite temporal loop, updating the act of contemplation for the age of technology.
Goethe-Medaille Exhibition, Goethe-Institut New York/German Cultural Center, New York, NY, September 13 – October 18, 1997
Ravenal, John B. Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007. (Pp. 168-169).
Hanhardt, John. The Worlds of Nam June Paik. New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2000. Exhibition catalogue. (P.128).
Yokobosky, Matthew. Speed of Vision. Ridgefield, CT: The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, 2000. Exhibition catalogue. (P. 19).
 Accessioned November 16, 2000. See VMFA Curatorial file.
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