First exhibited in the Second Annual Avant-Garde Festival of New York in 1964, Robot K-456 is Nam June Paik’s first work that took the shape of a robot. Produced in collaboration with Japanese engineers, this work was a 20-channel remote-controlled robot, and was named Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat Major, Köchel’s number 456. The robot could walk around the street. Its mouth played a recording of President John F. Kennedy’s speech, and its bottom dropped peas as if defecating. Robot K-456 participated in a number of performances with Paik. In 1982, as part of Paik’s retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the robot appeared in an accident-performance where it was struck by a car while crossing a road. Paik called the performance as “the first catastrophe of the 21st century,” trying to reveal the falsehood of mechanical rationality and propose a humanized machine that possesses human anxiety and emotion, which also experiences life and death.
Nam June Paik
PCB, servomotor, sensor, amplifier, battery, remote controller, pan, steel structures