Nam June
Paik

(1932–2006)
Lived and worked in New York, NY

Year created: 
1997
Requiem for the 20th Century, Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik. Requiem for the 20th Century. 1997. 1936 Chrysler Airstream, video, audio, monitors, speakers. 6 x 16 ½ x 6 feetMuseum Purchase with funds provided by the Island Fund of the New York Community Trust, 2001.53

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6 x 16 ½ x 6 feet

1936 Chrysler Airstream, video, audio, monitors, speakers
Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Island Fund of the New York Community Trust, 2001.53

Nam June Paik is the father of video art and the most important figure in the art and technology movement of the late twentieth century. In Requiem to the 20th Century, Paik merges art, music, and technology. Using video as his medium, Paik connects the past to the present, and has said that his work explores, “new, imaginative, and humanistic ways of using our technology.” Requiem pays homage to technology and the rise of two predominant inventions of the last century, the automobile and the television. A silver-painted 1936 Chrysler Airstream sedan is frozen in time, engine removed, insides gutted and immobile. A continuous video loop runs on multiple television monitors set in the windows, presenting themes central to Paik's work: consumerism, mobility, world-wide communication, advertising, and obsolete products. Mozart’s final and unfinished work, Requiem Mass in D minor, K.626, emanates quietly from speakers inside the car as an elegiac ode.

In his theoretical musings Paik foresaw many of today’s technological advances, coining the term “information superhighway.” As an original member of the Fluxus art group he joined fellow members John Cage, Joseph Beuys, and Yoko Ono in challenging the conventions of art and performance. Requiem symbolizes transformation from the industrial to the information age, exploring our relationship to the automobile, and advancements in the field of media and video. Enshrined as a silver reliquary, Paik's multimedia hybrid fuses an eighteenth-century musical mass, vestiges of twentieth-century technology, and a vintage symbol of American automotive engineering into a powerful and engaging installation.

www.PaikStudios.com