“Already in the early ’70s, Paik proposed the building of a new ‘Electronic SuperHighway,’ a network which would connect people all over the world through satellites, cables, and fiber optics,” said Stedelijk curator Leontine Coelewij, outlining Paik’s prophetic embrace of technology. “He said that conferences between people in different locations via colour video telephones will become commercially feasible. So he predicted the internet, Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom!”
Paik was conscious of the fact that any good contemporary artist would have to embrace the forefront of innovation while understanding the limits of their material world and the past. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, satellite broadcasting was rapidly replacing cable TV. Paik embraced this new technological zeitgeist by producing numerous “televisual” artworks using satellites and live broadcasting, bouncing his signals off these newfangled dishes. “Just as Mozart mastered the newly invented clarinet,” he once mused, “the satellite artist must compose his art from the beginning suitable to physical conditions and grammar.” Paik’s understanding of past changes in technology made him presciently aware of potential futures and demonstrated how artists might be its best predictors.