Originally published in Portuguese in the newspaper O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in September 10, 1988, on the day of Nam June Paik's live television special "Wrap Around the World".


Eduardo Kac

Today, from 11:30 AM until 1 PM (Rio de Janeiro time), a transcontinental artwork will be created as ten countries are connected via a live satellite link under the direction of Nam June Paik, the founder of video art. "Wrap Around the World" is the title of the work. Paik's original title, "Olympic Rainbow," could not be used because NBC owns the broadcasting rights to the Olympic Games. Conceived by Paik after years of planning, the piece realizes the artist's dream of a global television, which would connect people of different and geographically distant cultures.

Nam June Paik will be in the studios of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS, Channel 13), in New York, where he will re-transmit the signals received from the following countries: Japan, South Korea, China, Soviet Union, United States, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Brazil and Austria. The show has a precise script and the duration of each transmission will be accurately controlled. The opening will contain short broadcasts from New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Jerusalem and Rio de Janeiro.

Japan will transmit sequences of Buto dance by the group Sankai Juku (pre-recorded) and the electronic music of Ryiuchi Sakamoto (live), who will also dialogue in real time with David Bowie, who will be present in the studios of PBS. South Korea will participate transmitting flashes of the preparations for the Olympic Games, scenes of performances of traditional South-Korean music, and images of a videotower created by Paik in which he uses 1,003 video monitors. Paik's 18-meter high tower is a homage to Russian constructivist artist Tatlin. The number 3 is a homage to Korea's national day, October 3.

China will transmit images of acrobats and pop singers, while the Soviet television will broadcast a jazz performance, live from Leningrad. In New York, with Bowie in the studios of PBS will be Merce Cunningham, who will dance live, and the pianist David Tudor, who will play his composition "Rain Forest" live. Paik will also air some of his videographics, editing all the material in real time. In Bonn, Germany, the rock band Die Toten Hosen (Dead Trousers) will perform in front of Beethoven's house.

Ireland will participate in this multimedia apotheosis with a car race. Israel, in a completely different vain, will transmit live sequences from the gardens of the Museum of Jerusalem, where a dance company will be performing specially for the event. An orchestra will be performing in Austria, while in Brazil, more precisely in the studios of the Globo Television Network, Serginho da Mangueira will perform with a tambourine. Hans Donner will use the chroma key technique to make Serginho dance against a background of pre-recorded images of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. The Brazilian contribution will also include Vila Isabel Samba School's song for the 1988 Carnival and a song specially composed for the event by Cˇsar Camargo Mariano.

Donner will also include a selection of his videographics, originally produced as spots to create a visual identity for the Globo Television Network, since he did not have enough time to produce the animations he designed specially for "Wrap Around the World".

Nam June Paik, who has already created two other satellite art events, wrote in "Art & Satellite" (catalogue of exhibition "The Luminous Image", Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1984), that in the turn of the century the mathematician Henri Poincarˇ pointed out that we are not discovering new things but new relationships between things that already exist. Along these lines one could say that "Wrap Around the World" helps us re-invent human dialogue on a planetary scale; it helps us re-discover the symbolic dimension of the exchange between different cultures and peoples. Paik's work aims at showing how new technologies, if used properly, can be employed to promote and celebrate cultural diversity and global harmony.

Back to Kac Web