1974 / 1997
Media-Based Art
stone sculpture, soil, television, video camera on tripod, remote control, cable, outlet box with cord, and wood base
Other (.a buddha head): 18 1/2 × 12 × 12 7/8 in. (46.99 × 30.48 × 32.7 cm)
Other (base): 24 × 62 × 41 in. (60.96 × 157.48 × 104.14 cm)
Not on view

“The real issue implied in “Art and Technology” is not to make another scientific toy, but how to humanize the technology and the electronic medium, which is progressing rapidly—too rapidly.” —Nam June Paik

Paik, undoubtedly the single most important figure in the history of video art, established the medium in the early 1960s. Buddha Watching TV comes from one of his most celebrated video sculpture series. Paik created the original concept in 1974 and made this example in 1997.

Here a stone Buddha head from Indonesia, partially embedded in dirt and signed dramatically across the back by Paik in Chinese and English, appears to observe itself on television. A live image of the unchanging head is continuously relayed to the monitor by the closed-circuit camera on the tripod. The Buddha thus generates and receives its own image in an infinite temporal loop, updating the act of contemplation for the age of technology.

signed and dated in white paint on Buddha's head
Gift of the Friends of Frances and Sydney Lewis, in memory of Sydney Lewis, and in honor of the grand reopening of the Sydney and Frances Lewis Galleries of Modern and Contemporary Art
Speed of Vision: On the Construction and Perception of Time in Video Art, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT, June 18 - September 6, 2000; Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA, January 13 - March 11, 2001

Goethe-Medaille Exhibition, Goethe-Institut New York/German Cultural Center, New York, NY, September 13 – October 18, 1997
Collection of the artist, New York; Purchased by Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia in 2000. [1]

[1] Accessioned November 16, 2000. See VMFA Curatorial file.
©artist or artist’s estate

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