Baek(je) to (Nam June) Paik: Korean Art in Global Context
Tuesday, Thursday: 9:30-11:00am
Writing of his Good Morning Mr. Orwell (1984), a first international satellite installation of any kind, Nam June Paik (1932-2006) celebrates how the satellite now allows the artist to “shorten distances by shrinking the earth,” in the same way that Mozart had “mastered the newly-invented clarinet.” Continuing with this music analogy, Paik heralds a new age of technologically enhanced transnationalism that bridges opposites of the earth, with the artist at the podium to compose and conduct “a multitemporal, multispatial symphony.” Paik’s own career straddles South Korea, Japan, Germany, and the US; in fact, the profile of the Seoul-born artist is so international that he is often left out of accounts of Korean art. While Paik’s vantage point may appear exemplary (and almost unique) of a contemporary moment, this survey of Korean art from the bronze age to the present times will demonstrate that artistic traditions on the peninsula were formulated through equally vibrant currents of international exchange, artistic, cultural, religious, and political. Different mediums, formats, and historical agents, presented in a chronological sequence, will be discussed and contextualized within Korean history and society; equal attention, however, will be given to broader cultural developments within which the history of Korean art is constantly entangled. No discussion sections are scheduled for this course. Class meetings will include a mix of lecture and discussion. Evaluation of class performance will be based on two exams and one essay. No prior knowledge of the subject or the Korean language is required.