(edited by) John G. Hanhardt, Gregory Zinman, and Edith Decker-Phillips – We Are in Open Circuits: Writings by Nam June Paik


The MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0262039802, English, 464 pages, 2019, USA

Nam June Paik is back in the limelight, thanks to an important historical exhibition at Tate Modern (see the report in this issue). There has been a general growth in attention to the avant-garde media art of the 20th Century, the prophets of the current dystopian mediascape. The book is a treasure trove of Paik’s writings, mostly never before published, and which, in a brave editing decision, have been maintained in their original form, including typos and mistakes. This is a rewarding collection, allowing the reader to dive into Paik’s visionary interpretation of art and life.  For example, he analyses TV mechanisms the way we, today, analyse the internet and social media, and fantasises about possible technological applications and their social and cultural implications. The texts are organised and range through topics that include music, video, television, politics, commentaries, letters, etc. Here we can see the originals, in all their aesthetic chaos and rigour, and we can easily read the scanned text, jumping into his installation proposals, exhibition essays, manifestos, Fluxus instruction sheets, and music scores, most of which are typewritten. The typewriter and the writing, both central to his expression, have facilitated his multifaceted identity, and his aim to foster technology and horizontal communication.