Paik studied music composition
first in Korea
, then at the University of Tokyo
, where he wrote his thesis on modernist
composer Arnold Schönberg
. In 1956 Paik traveled to Europe
and settled in Germany
to pursue his interest in avant-garde
music and performance
During studies at the Summer Course for new music in Daarmstat in 1958, Paik met composer John Cage. Cage's ideas on composition and performance were a great influence on him, as were those of George Maciunas, the founder of the radical art movement Fluxus, which Paik was invited to join.
Paik's initial artistice explorations of the mass media of television were presented in his first solo exhibition in 1963, Exposition of Music-Electronic Television at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany. This milestone features Paik's prepared televisions. Paik altered the sets to distort their reception of broadcast transmissions and scattered them about the room, on their sides and upside down. He also created interactive video works that transformed the viewer's relationship to the medium. With these first steps began the exploration of television as art medium.
In 1964 Paik moved to New York and continued his explorations of television av video. By the late 1960s he was in the front of a new generation of experimenting artists, manipulation CRTs to perform at his will. He worked as a teacher all through the 1960s and 1970s, while supporting other artists willing to explore the newly discovered art medium. He started the work with videotapes and joined art friends such as Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, John Cage, Joseph Beuys and Merce Cunningham.
My personal favourite thing with this artist, is his art medium, the ray. I haven't actually read this anywhere, but it strikes me as natural that Paik paints with rays of light, or electron beams. His first installments often used the manipulated electron beams to paint patterns on the television screen that no one had seen before. When the digital age arrived, he turned to lasers as a brush. One of his latest installments, a large cone which laser light is projected upon, is staggering to experience. I have experienced standing inside the cone while lasers in all colours painted the white canvas into an 2001ish LSD trip. Extraordinary.