Vide-O-belisk is an assemblage designed by Nam June Paik, who is generally considered the father of video art. Standing nineteen feet (6 m), this sculpture is made from twenty-four vintage television receivers stacked to form an obelisk. The television screens display three distinct video loops: One features significant art objects from the Brooks’ permanent collection and imagery of ancient Egypt—an obvious reference to the city on the Nile from which Memphis, Tennessee got its name; a second loop is devoted to the advent of television, showing the essential mechanical parts of TV technology, as well as key moments in its history, such as man’s landing on the moon and an Elvis Presley performance; the third is composed of performers that had inspired and collaborated with Paik himself. John Cage, Laurie Anderson, and Charlotte Moorman, as well as other significant composers and performing artists appear in this footage.
Surrounding the television sets are neon lights that reference different forms of communication: Egyptian hieroglyphics, a telephone, a musical note. In all, Vide-O-belisk is a monument both to communications and art. Its central location in the Brooks’ rotunda makes it the first work of art one encounters when entering the museum and the gateway to the mid-South’s most encyclopedic art collection.
Paik famously claimed that “Skin has become inadequate in interfacing with reality. Technology has become the body’s new membrane of existence.” We hope you will work within the spirit of Paik’s radical call for new art forms as you create your composition.
Call for Entries | The Paik Sessions II: Music for Vide-O-belisk
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art invites you to create an instrumental piece of music in response to Nam June Paik’s landmark sculpture Vide-O-belisk (2002), centrally located in the Museum’s rotunda. The Paik Sessions II is the second installment in a series celebrating Paik’s art through music, Given the wide diversity of visitors to the Brooks, your musical compositions should take into consideration the city’s history, musical heritage, and the culture of the region.
The final composition must be under 5 minutes long, an original recording, and licensed under Creative Commons for use by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. If selected, the composition will be included on a compilation CD to be played in the museum rotunda during Art Open Late, added to the Brooks app, posted on Brook’s website, and posted on various social media outlets. A panel made up of Brooks staff and music industry professionals will make selections from the entries submitted.
We encourage you to visit the museum rotunda, take a seat on the padded bench, and allow yourself some time to be transfixed by Vide-O-belisk. For additional inspiration, audio guides loaded with the Paik Sessions I are available at Visitor Services.
Deadline is November 30, 2013.
Questions and submissions go to: Luis Seixas Assistant Preparator, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art / 901.544.6233.