Nam June Paik

V-yramid
1982

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Not on view

One of Nam June Paik’s largest-scale video installations, V-yramid was created for the artist’s retrospective exhibition at the Whitney. It consists of forty televisions of varying sizes stacked into a pyramidal shape and was designed to fill the galleries floor-to-ceiling. In each of the televisions, a video produced by Paik on custom-made video synthesizer technology pulsates alongside music ranging from popular rock songs to traditional Korean ballads. Central to Paik’s concept for V-yramid is the notion of duality. Running through many aspects of the work is a tension between two poles—for instance, the contrast between contemporary rock music and traditional Korean music; the fluidity of the video imagery and the architectural rigidity of the pyramid; the high culture of a religious monument and the low culture of television; and, finally, the ancient pyramid form and the era’s cutting-edge technology. Yet Paik did not necessarily see these opposing elements as being in conflict with one another. Indeed, as he noted: “The Egyptian pyramids are the first example of a combination of high art and high tech, because they used many of the cutting edge technologies of their time.”

Artist
Nam June Paik

Title
V-yramid

Date
1982

Classification
Sculpture

Medium
Video installation, color, sound, with forty television sets

Dimensions
Overall: 186 3/4 × 85 × 74 in. (474.4 × 215.9 × 188 cm)

Accession number
82.11

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from the Lemberg Foundation, Inc. in honor of Samuel Lemberg

Rights and reproductions information
© Nam June Paik Estate


Audio

  • America Is Hard to See, Kids

    Nam June Paik, V-yramid, 1982

    Nam June Paik, V-yramid, 1982

    0:00

    Narrator: By now you’ve probably seen a lot of sculptures, but I bet this is the first one you’ve seen made entirely out of old television sets.

    Nam June Paik could have arranged these forty TVs along the floor. Instead, he stacked them so they tower over you! He called this work V-yramid—to sound like PYramid. He once said “The Egyptian pyramids are the first example of a combination of high art and high tech, because they used many of the cutting edge technologies of their time.”

    When Paik was born, there was no Internet and TVs had just been invented—his parents didn’t grow up with one, and not many of his friends had one either. Now we watch TV on phones, computers, tablets—it’s all over the place. What kind of a sculpture can you imagine making with TVs today? Would it be this big?



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