Nam June Paik, Magnet TV | Video in American Sign Language
August 15, 2019
This is one of Nam June Paik’s earliest works. Made in 1965, it is titled Magnet TV. At the time, Paik was one of the pioneers of TV and Video art. He anticipated things like Youtube, MTV, and the art of remixing. He also felt strongly that one day,
television would take control over our everyday lives. And that we would be inundated with a constant stream of images. So with that in mind, Paik created this abstract image. We see a standard old black and white television set with a heavy, industrial sized magnet weighing heavily on top. On the screen we see a black, white, and grey image that is distorted. It is an abstract image. If you walk around to the side you can see a tube inside,
specifically a cathode ray tube. If the magnet were to be moved atop the television,
the distorted image would move as well. With this work, Paik wanted to show the viewer that the signal is not static. By using a magnet, one can disrupt the television broadcast. So in a way, what you are seeing is the power struggle
between man and electronic stimulation. You can also see that Paik signed the TV set
just like an artist would sign a canvas. It says Paik 65.