Author: Glen Helfand --- Date: 05.20.96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Electronic Super Highway: Nam June Paik in the '90s
February 18 - May 5, 1996
San Jose Museum of Art
organized by the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art

"Welcome to Cybertown." This apt greeting is the first line of the explanatory essay of video art pioneer Nam June Paik's techno-art spectacle, Electronic Super Highway. As this traveling exhibition pulls in to San Jose, with sponsorship from Apple Computer and Samsung Semiconductor, Inc., it's tempting to equate the sentiment with Silicon Valley. The show's plugged-in video sculptures, made from "over 500" monitors, play Paik's standard speedy pulse of moving images and mirror the kind digital optimism and cultural fears produced in this computer industry haven.

While Paik uses complex computer programs to run his quick, mutating video montages, his Cybertown is a funky-edged attempt to give global internet infrastructures a homey Americana spin. The artist, with this theme park of an installation, gives sculptural presence to the idea of virtual community. Paik's Cybertown sculptures, produced mainly in 1994, comprise a Main Street USA with internet links. Strolling through the gallery "street" you'll encounter, among other things, an old-fashioned schoolhouse, city hall, and street vendor. Each is electrified and re-named in really nerdy netspeak: a tv tree, with weeping willow wires, is titled "More Log-in: Less Logging =2E"

The whole thing is a mini Disney World tempered with Blade Runner multicultural futurism. The installations exude the ultimately benign social commentary inherent in those two referents. Paik's dazzling video images of morphing presidents, Merce Cunningham dancers, rock stars and burning folk art whiz by at speeds too quick to comprehend. They become a steady stream of equalized, inert information. This concept is frighteningly provocative, but Paik seems to be having too much fun to notice if there's any real communication going on within his static web of wires.
- Glen Helfand

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Dominique Malenfant-Gamache --

hi! My name is Dominique from Université de Montréal, CAN. I need some information about "collage" in Paik's video production.