Print of Note #12


Subject Citation Contents
avant garde music/sound/audio performance; Nam June Paik The Worlds of Nam June Paik by John Hanhardt. (2000). NY: Guggenheim Museum. (p.24)


Nam June Paik is known as the godfather of video art, but do people realize that he started off in audio? His death in early 2006 prompted me to dig up my copy of the book that accompanied his Guggenheim Museum retrospective exhibition in 2000.
He went to Germany in 1956 and studied with music composers for several years in Munich and Freiburg. During that time, he met John Cage, who had a profound influence on him. He became involved in lesser-known avant garde art events.

      "It was within this community of artists and the fragile world of performance that Paik discovered and sustained himself. As an artist looking to define himeself, he found a source of inspiration in this culture of actions, which confirmed his need to act and be heard, and encouraged the creation of his own language of expression. The performances of that time can be linked to avant garde film and the activities of performers who integrated film into their work in order to break through the conventional rhetoric of image consumption. In Hommage à John Cage (1959), first performed...in Dusseldorf, Paik employed audiotape and performance to attack traditional musical instrumentation and compositional practices. Paik created audiotape recordings of himself, splicing together piano playing and screaming, bits of classical music, and sound effects. Realizing that taped sound was not enough, he decided to move into performance, first by introducing actions into his audio work. In a related piece entitled Erinnerung an das 20. Jahrhundert: Marilyn Monroe (1962), Paik filled a phonograph cabinet with popular records as well as magazines and newspapers that announced the actress's death. Here, he explored and responded to Monroe's mystique and death through an examination of her exposure in the popular media. Paik's actions with records, which included smashing and playing them during performances, were a further extension of his treatment of the recorded medium and the "playing" of music.
      Paik's use of audiotape technology in Hommage formed a critical juncture between his music/performance pieces/actions and his first experiments with the television set and transformation of the received broadcast image. His investigations into the workings of the television, and application of magnets to distort the received and prerecorded image, parallelled his treatment of sound on prerecorded audiotape and the use of audiotape decks to transform its content. (Paik initially used audiotape as a recording medium for his early videotapes because audiotape was so much cheaper.) Thus his movement between sound and videotape was a seamless investigation into the mechanics of sound and image reproduction.

(You should read about the New York memorial service for him. It sounds like it ended in an appropriately crazy way.)

punk rock in China "Punks and Posers in China; A Muted Rebel Yell Emerges in Nation Where Dissent Is Suppressed, Fads Rule" by Maureen Fan, Washington Post 9 August 2006 ...The obstacles to China's music, filmmaking and painting are not always from government censors. China's pressure-cooker university system has been criticized for destroying creativity and preparing students only for exams. Much of the most interesting art is found underground. Often, it is society that is unsupportive. "If a filmmaker shows the dark side of society, for example, homosexual life, even if the government doesn't stop you, people will not come out to see the film," Lu said. "If you are a singer and you have your own style of music and only five people come to see you, can you survive?"

At a recent concert, a Chinese punk rocker was "just following the script for punkness" and attacking President Bush, said Michael Pettis, owner of the club where P.K. 14 performed. "Chinese punks should be attacking Hu Jintao, but that's not the way it works in China. That's dangerous."

Cui Jian, an icon for some punks in China, said cooperating with government censors doesn't necessarily mean you have to change the meaning of a song. "Chinese punks want to show they're angry. That's enough. They don't have to make a big statement," he said in an interview. "The most important thing is don't lose yourself."

Yang Haisong, the lead singer of P.K. 14, said Chinese are looking for meaning in a country that is changing so drastically. "The average man has to look for support, something to live for," he said. "The government told people you should live for money, a house, a car, a bigger house. So more people get rich and more people get poor. It's a bad situation. Some foreigners say China has a bright future, but I say there's no future.

"I try to sing about this, express this in our music," Yang said. "I am not a fighter, a protester, a politician. Music is what I do, I can only do that."

Asian female-fronted band draws clumsy comparisons "Interview: Asobi Seksu" by Natasha Li Pickowicz, Good Hodgkins, 23 Aug 06 This is from a music e-zine interview of lead singer, Yuki Chikudate, of the Brooklyn-based, dream-pop (+ noise?) band.

  Iíve read some reviews of live performances, and I was wondering if it bothers you, this sense of a very particular kind of cultural stereotyping where youíre a woman in a band with other white menó

  Well, thatís not true! (Laughs) Our bassist is not white, actually, heís Iranian!

  (Laughs) Okay, well, to speak more precisely, youíre a Japanese-American woman in an all-male band, and Iíve read pieces that have compared you to bands that sound nothing like Asobi Seksu, everything from Blonde Redhead to Deerhoof to Enon, and it seems all so irrelevant and unnecessary.

  Right.

  Is that something that you think about or that youíve noticed?

  I definitely notice that. There are so many things that people say that have no relevance whatsoever, but people are going to say what they want to say and theyíre going to go for the obvious thing: the way that I look and the way that those other women look. So thatís the first thing those men will see and will write about, and I think itís unfortunate, but at the same time you canít really control what theyíre going to say. You donít want to come across as being too defensive, you know? So I think itís silly. (Laughs) And they only do that kind of comparison with women, unfortunately.

  Absolutely.

  And women are criticized in a way that men arenít. So it is unfortunate, but what can you do, itís a male world when it comes to rock music. (Laughs) So as a woman you feel scrutinized in a way that men donít have to deal with, but you just kind of roll with it, and know that people are going to say bullshit and you just have to deal with it.

KA K-pop stars and wannabe's "Korean-American teens embrace a pop music hybrid" by Cecilia Kang, 27 Nov. 06, Associated Press The following article excerpt is about Korean Americans making it (and wanting to make it) as popstars in Korea. What makes it a little different from previous articles on KA K-pop stars is a Northern Virginia (DC area) angle. She starts off with a fall 06 concert in DC by a collection of K-pop acts. One of the vocalists, a 26 year-old named Danny, was born and raised in the States:

"Ahnyong haseyo! What's up, D.C.?" he bellows, greeting the audience. They respond with even louder screams as a sea of neon glow sticks wave frantically in appreciation.

He launches into Korean rap, pumping his shoulders to the heavy hip-hop bass line of "Nasty," sung in English and Korean. His 1Tym group mate Teddy Park joins in, wearing a trucker hat over a Louis Vuitton do-rag: "Say He-ey! Say ho-oh!"

Born and raised near Los Angeles, Danny Im is among a growing cadre of Korean-Americans who have broken into the Korean entertainment industry and now serve as K-pop stars to be exported globally.

Some hail from the suburbs of Virginia: Chart-topper Micky Yuchun of boy group TVXQ attended Chantilly High before he became famous in Asia for his baby-face good looks and Justin Timberlake dance moves; Lee Ming Young of the best-selling pop duo As One is a graduate of Fairfax High School.

Like the thousand-plus fans at the multi-act concert at Constitution Hall last month, Danny grew up with one Converse-clad foot firmly planted in the beats and sounds of Snoop and Mariah, and the other in the burgeoning hip-hop and R&B scene of Korea. He and other artists, including the show's headlining star, Se7en, routinely sell out arenas in Korea and across Asia.

"You grow up hearing all kinds of music, languages and sounds growing up in America," says Danny, an eight-year veteran Korean singer and rapper. "Those experiences make you open to more things and more versatile. "

Global travel is more accessible today; so is entertainment. In the world of teens, K-pop, J-pop and Taiwanese pop music and movies are a click away. Even some K-pop band names mean more than Americans realize: TVXQ, for example, is a transliteration of the name in Mandarin Chinese ó the group is also seeking a market in the Communist mainland. .....

.... ... Micky Yuchun grew up in Seoul, South Korea, where he was known as Yuchun Park. He immigrated with his parents, middle-class small-business owners, in the sixth grade. He watched Korean dramas on satellite TV and listened to the CDs of K-pop bands. At school and among friends, he soaked up the Backstreet Boys, Eric Clapton and MTV.

Three years ago he was plucked from talent contests in Northern Virginia to join one of Asia's hottest boy bands. He uses his American moniker, Micky, as his stage name.

"I felt 50-50 American and Korean," Micky, 21, says in a telephone interview from Seoul. "I think most Korean kids in America feel that way these days."

That's true of Alice Chang, 17, who has closely watched celebrities like Danny and Micky rise from the U.S. suburbs to globe-trotting stardom. The Fairfax native is making a run for fame herself: She plans to try out as a singer on "American Idol" next season. Fluent in Korean and possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of Korean entertainers, she has aspirations to become a K-pop star, too.

"I want to make it in American or Korean entertainment," says the Fairfax High senior. "I could see myself fitting in either."

So on a recent balmy Sunday afternoon, Alice is among about 200 hopefuls who show up at SM Entertainment's talent auditions at the Don Quixote bar and club in Alexandria, Va. Parents pull up to the peeling facade of the two-story Latin dance club, dropping off sons and daughters ó perhaps the next Beyonces and Ushers of Korea. Five friends in knit caps and trucker hats practice breakdance moves in the parking lot, fine-tuning their footwork and robot-sharp turns. A dozen contestants are gathered around a parked minivan that is playing Korean music videos on two drop-down DVD screens.

Inside the Don Quixote, talent scout Jung Ah Kang of SM Entertainment sits behind a folding table on the dance floor as contestants come before her in groups of five. They each take turns singing a cappella for Kang, "Idol"-style. There's a silver disco ball overhead and Spanish-language beer posters on the walls.

Kang is stoic, taking careful notes while assistants train a video camera on the dance floor. After months of travel, she will return to Korea with only a handful of standouts to call back.

Clean-cut, wearing an argyle sweater and jeans, Alice waits for her number to be announced. In a prayer-like gesture, she raises her clasped hands to her face and takes several deep breaths. "I'm not nervous. I'm not nervous," she tells herself.

When she is called, Alice introduces herself in Korean and then in English and sings "Sarah," a love ballad from Korean chanteuse BoA. Her voice sounds dry and she sings softly. Kang then asks Alice to dance freestyle for the camera along with four other contestants.

In seconds, the audition is over. Alice's bilingual youth, spent listening to countless hours of Korean songs, watching Korean television dramas and visiting fan Web sites and forums, culminated in a 30-second performance that was rattled by nerves and a quiver in her voice.

"It was my first time auditioning," she says with a hint of disappointment. Then brightens: "I'm going to go to Korea and try out again."

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