Nam June Paik, In-Flux House, 1993. Mixed media. 140 X 212 X 24 inches
If you’re going to bust this blog for being greatly biased, you might as well add “hates Fluxus art” to your list of obvious AFC dislikes. For those not overly familiar with the term, Fluxus describes a group of artists with the shared sensibility that art should be fun, simple, and maintain as little distinction between life and performance as possible. While the practice by description tends to have a lot in common with New Media, unlike the latter, I find the results rarely resemble anything interesting. Staying true to this thought, I spent part of Saturday evening watching Larry Miller, a man well known for his participation as Fluxus Artist, perform his homage to Nam June Paik at James Cohen Gallery, and I’m considering sending him a letter requesting my time back. Miller enlisted no less than six performance assistants to help him handle a video camera hung from a rope strung from the ceiling, and paint a piano white, and yet it still took close to an hour to get all of this done. Thankfully, Miller knows how to work the crowd, so the large number of old people who turned up for the performance laughed heartily when he turned the camera to a mirror he peered into, which was then projected onto a larger screen. Hilarious, I know.
Larry Miller aside, I have to say the Nam June Paik show warrants a visit. I tend to think of TV these days as an activity I might want to indulge in if I want to feel a sense of nostalgia for a time before high speed internet connections and youtube, which is why it comes as a bit of a surprise to me that Paik’s sculptures don’t feel at all dated. W3, an installation of chained TV’s on a wall undoubtedly provides the best example of this, as it’s almost impossible to understand how the piece was conceived in 1994 with such strong visual references to computer networks. A number of other large sculptures dominate the main gallery, all of them impressive not only in their grandeur, but in the combination of static architectural forms and moving image. A surprise even to me at times, Nam June Paik is one Fluxus artist actually approve of.