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Global Groove, Nam June Paik (1973)

“This is a glimpse of the video landscape of tomorrow, when you will be able to switch to any TV station on the earth, and TV Guide will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book.”

Global Groove was a collaborative piece by Nam June Paik and John Godfrey. Paik, amongst other artists who shared the same vision in the 1960s, saw the potential in the television beyond it being a one-sided medium to present programs and commercials. Instead, he saw it more as a place to facilitate a free flow of information exchange. He wanted to strip away the limitations from  copyright system and network restrictions and bring in a new TV culture where information can be accessed inexpensively and conveniently.

Below is a quote by him that further explains his vision:

“If we could compile a weekly TV festival made up of music and dance from every county, and distributed it free-of-charge round the world via the proposed common video market, it would have a phenomenal effect on education and entertainment.”

The full length of the piece ran 28 minutes and was first broadcasted in January 30, 1974 on WNET (a public television station in New York City). It can be described as a visual collage made up of elements from various mediums. For example, he mixes together footage from Pepsi commercials and his own earlier workswith pop music and artist contributions from people such as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Charlotte Moorman (as we studied previously in TV Bra for Living Sculpture).

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Paik saw the potential and value in broadcast video and Global Groove was a seminal work that took the first step in moving away from commercialized programming and towards an experimental and educational place for learning. By bringing together elements from different mediums and using works by other artists, the piece itself suggests that the television is a circular system of information communication. Paik’s Global Groove may not have been done for the purpose of foreseeing video imaging as a medium, but the piece did lead to more artists exploring and presenting their work through this form. 

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