Global Groove

Survey of Critical Response

In the 1970s, Paik began a series of tapes, including Global Groove (1973), that were extraordinarily influential and innovative (Zippay 156). Global Groove begins with the statement, "This is a glimpse of the video landscape of tomorrow, when you will be able to switch to any TV station on Earth, and TV Guide will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book". For the following half-hour, viewers are brought into this video world of Paik's, which includes performances of his pieces TV Cello , and TV Bra for Living Sculpture. Hanhardt notes,"Not only did Global Groove allow him to create a vehicle for the short bits he had produced but it also allowed him to expand the public audience for video art while acknowledging the contributions of his friends and colleagues. [It] set the benchmark for a generation of aspiring video artists in its state-of-the-art mix of entertainment values with a rigorous adherence to Paik's own aesthetic" (107).

Although Paik says, "I make technology look ridiculous" many of his critics agree that he has paved the road to the world of video art for other artists to follow him. Global Groove continues Paik's tradition of using TV sets as art, and even as metaphors themselves of a world based on such technology. For example, Zippay comments on the piece: "This radical manifesto on global communications in a media-saturated world is rendered as a frenetic electronic collage, a sound and image pastiche that subverts the language of television" (157).

On the technical side of things, Global Groove was Piak's first work with state-of-the-art editing techniques. He manipulates the various things in the video in many ways, like distorting Nixon's face by using magnets to alter the TV set.

Zippay further critiques Global Groove: "Paik subjects this transcultural, intertextual content to an exuberant, stream-of-consciousness onslaught of disruptive editing and technological devices, including audio and video synthesis, colorization, ironic juxtapositions, temporal shifts, and layering—a controlled chaos that suggests a hallucinatory romp through the channels of a global TV" (157).

It appears that Paik has left many effects on people's image of television, the media, and even society, today, and possibly the future. As other critics agree, Zippay concludes, "In its postmodern content, form, and conceptual strategies, Global Groove had a profound influence on video, television, and contemporary art"; and I think people, as well . . . (157).

--Candiann Roswell
October 25, 1995

Nam June Paik