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Nam June Paik: Lessons from the Video Master

Distributed by In Motion Productions, Inc., 373 Broadway #E3, New York, NY 10013; 212-431-8480
Produced by Skip Blumberg
Directed by Skip Blumberg
DVD, color, 93 min.
College - Adult
Art, Popular Culture

Reviewed by Rue McKenzie, University of South Florida, Tampa

Not Recommended   
Date Entered: 6/7/2007

Nam June Paik’s work as a video artist is revolutionary and seminal in its originality and scope. He produced his first video art (THE first video art) in 1965. In an effort to chronicle the effect Nam June Paik has had on fellow artists and performers, filmmaker Skip Blumberg attends, with video recorder in hand, the February 2006 memorial service/reception as well as a March gallery opening and April memorial service for the late artist. He asks a broad array of attendees the same question: “What did you learn from Nam June?” There are many responses, but after a while the program becomes quite repetitious. There are bits and pieces of video art interspersed throughout, but they are rarely a focal point.

Nam June Paik: Lessons from the Video Master lives up to its title. What others learned from him is the sole content. The viewer is given a taste of video art, and an introduction to many of Paik’s collaborators and admirers. However, if you are not familiar with Nam June Paik’s work, you won’t be any more familiar after viewing this film.

There is one piece of performance art presented by Yoko Ono during the Guggenheim memorial. It is quite beautiful and absorbing. However, the recording of the performance is in keeping with the rest of the video. The filmmaker seems to be intentionally informal in his approach to all the events, and all the people he talks with. The final footage is edited with a variety of special effects, which does provide some insight into the technical creativity of Skip Blumberg. Because this film is tagged as “a tribute to a friend & fellow artist…”, the lack of informational content and repetitive nature of the work is probably intentional. However, the final product is one that I cannot recommend, except to a viewer comfortable with video art, and already very familiar with video artists.