Nam June Paik (July 20, 1932 – January 29, 2006) was a Korean-born American artist. He worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the first video artist. He is credited with an early usage (1974) of the term "super highway" in application to telecommunications.
Born in Seoul during the colonial period of Korea, the youngest of five siblings. Paik then began participating in the Neo-Dada art movement, known as Fluxus, which was inspired by the composer John Cage and his use of everyday sounds and noises in his music. He made his big debut at an exhibition known as Exposition of Music-Electronic Television, in which he scattered televisions everywhere and used magnets to alter or distort their images.In 1964, Paik moved to New York, and began working with classical cellist Charlotte Moorman, to combine his video, music, and performance. In the work TV Cello, the pair stacked televisions on top one another, so that they formed the shape of an actual cello. When Moorman drew her bow across the "cello," images of her and other cellists playing appeared on the screens.
In 1965, Sony introduced the Portapak (though it is said that Paik had a similar one before Sony released theirs). With this, Paik could both move and record things, for it was the first portable video and audio recorder. From there, Paik became an international celebrity, known for his creative and entertaining works.In a notorious 1967 incident, Moorman was arrested for going topless while performing in Paik’s Opera Sextronique. Two years later, in 1969, they performed TV Bra for Living Sculpture, in which Moorman wore a bra with small TV screens over her breasts. Throughout this period it was his goal to bring music up to speed with art and literature, and make sex an acceptable theme. One of his Fluxus pieces instructs the performer to climb up inside the vagina of a living sperm whale.
In 1971, he made a cello out of three television sets stacked up on top of each other and some cello strings. He got a famous cellist to play the "cello" as well.In 1974 Nam June Paik used the term "super highway" in application to telecommunications, which gave rise to the opinion that he may have been the author of the phrase "Information Superhighway". In fact, in his 1974 proposal "Media Planning for the Postindustrial Society – The 21st Century is now only 26 years away" to Rockefeller Foundation he used a slightly different phrase, "electronic super highway"
Paik was known for making robots out of television sets. These were constructed using pieces of wire and metal, but later Paik used parts from radio and television sets. A retrospective of Paik's work was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the spring of 1982.In 1996, Paik had a stroke, which paralyzed his left side; he used a wheelchair the last decade of his life. Paik died January 29, 2006, in Miami, Florida, due to complications from his stroke.