Nam June Paik produced several versions of his work titled TV Buddha, which shows a Buddha statue watching TV. In this installation housed by the Nam June Paik Art Center, Buddha is watching his own real-time image on a TV screen taken by a closed-circuit camera. The fact that Buddha—the truth seeker representing oriental wisdom—is watching TV—a symbol of mass media representing modern civilization—may appear humorous at first glance, along with the impression that he seems to sink into narcissism fascinated by his own image on the screen. Nevertheless, this work shows Buddha reflecting on himself by watching his image on TV, presenting a serious topic of self-examination. During a performance held in Cologne in 1974, Paik himself wore a Buddhist robe and sat in front of the television. What is most important in this work, however, is that the audience will appear on the TV screen when they lean toward the screen to watch what Buddha sees. This is what Paik sought—an electronic environment that is un-closed and attracts participation of the audience.
Nam June Paik
1 limestone Buddha statue, 1 CRT TV set, 1 CCTV camera