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Artist

Nam June Paik (1932-2006)

Title

V-yramid

Date

1982

Medium

Two-channel video installation, color, sound, with forty television sets

Dimensions

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

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Lemberg Foundation, Inc. in honor of Samuel Lemberg

Accession number

82.11

Object Label

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.”