Happy Flag Day!
In 1996, we commissioned Nam June Paik to create a seventy-monitor “Video Flag” to be the collection’s first holding of video art!
“Video Flag” is one of a series of video sculpture environments constructed by the artist in the 1980s and 1990s that employ banks of functioning television sets which are activated by a computer and laser disk players and play back fast-paced streams of images in endless variations. The American flag is instantly recognizable on the 7-by-12-foot wall of monitors (70 in all) in which stars and stripes share air time with split-second news stills, rotating statues of Liberty, endless runs of ones and zeros (the binary language of computers), and a face that morphs through every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton.
Nam June Paik was an important pioneer in the development of video installation art. Trained in music theory, piano, and electronic music, Paik began his career as a performance artist and avant-garde musician. In the early 1960s he made his first “altered TVs” in which he manipulated television signals with magnets and used video feedback, synthesizers, and other technology to produce kaleidoscopic shapes and luminous colors.