How Nam June Paik Anticipated the Internet

Emily Pothast
Form and Resonance
Published in
2 min readOct 1, 2021

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An artist dreamed of a hyperconnected future. Now we live in it.

Nam June Paik. Still from “Good Morning, Mr. Orwell.” Video, 1984.

On New Year’s Day, 1984, the artist Nam June Paik broadcast his first international satellite “installation” to an audience of some 25 million people in four countries. An hour-long montage of avant-garde music videos, dance performances, and animated video art, “Good Morning, Mr. Orwell” is Paik’s rejoinder to George Orwell, countering the dystopian novelist’s mass media pessimism with his own joyous, absurdist use of simulcast technology. Performances by a host of artists including Laurie Anderson, Peter Gabriel, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Joseph Beuys, Salvador Dalí, Allen Ginsberg, and the cellist Charlotte Moorman flow in and out of each other with a manic energy, shifting colors and leaving behind a halo of video feedback tracers. The result is something so goofy and profound that only Paik could have produced it.

Many artists and social theorists of the time were skeptical of television, viewing it as a tool for placating the masses rather than a medium for genuine artistic expression. Paik saw things differently: as early as the 1960s, he was creating works of art designed for broadcast TV. In 1974, he wrote,

The mass entertainment TV as we see it now will be divided into, or rather gain many branches and tails of, differentiated video cultures…

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Emily Pothast
Form and Resonance

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. emilypothast.com