Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV (2023) is a documentary exploring renowned multi-media artist Nam June Paik and his groundbreaking life and work.

Nam June Paik (1932-2006) was born in Japan-occupied Korea and studied as a classical musician moving to Germany in the 1950s in hopes of becoming a composer. As part of 836 M’s focus on the process of art making, this film screening highlights Paik as a member of the Fluxus movement – an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers, and poets during the 1960s and 70s who engaged in experimental art performances emphasizing the artistic process over the finished product. Eventually, he immigrated to the United States of America, where the bulk of his extensive body of work, including video sculptures, installations, performances, and television productions, was produced. His global presence and influence are deeply felt in this monumental retrospective of his life and work.

This film is the first feature by director Amanda Kim and had its premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2023.

Following the screening was a conversation moderated by 836M Curator and Gallery Manager Jade Fogle with Bay Area video artist and Paik’s longtime friend, John Sanborn, and Tanya Zimbardo, Assistant Curator of Media Arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Panelist Speakers

Tanya Zimbardo is a San Francisco-based curator. For the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Zimbardo has curated several exhibitions and programs including Nam June Paik: In Character (2017-18, with Rachel Jans) and the related public program series Nam June Paik: Liner Notes. Her SFMOMA exhibitions Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors and Susan Philipsz: Songs Sung in the First Person on Themes of Longing, Sympathy and Release are currently on view. Over the past decade, Zimbardo has guest (co-)curated exhibitions, screenings and public programs for Bay Area nonprofit arts and film organizations such as Canyon Cinema Foundation, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco Cinematheque, The 500 Capp Street Foundation, among others. Zimbardo recently contributed to Gravity Spells II: Bay Area New Music & Expanded Cinema Art (Bimodal Press).

John Sanborn has been called “a key member of the second wave of American video artists that included Bill Viola, Gary Hill, and Dara Birnbaum” by Dr. Peter Weibel, director of the ZKM. Sanborn’s career spans the early days of experimental video art in the 1970s through the heyday of 80’s MTV music/videos and 90’s interactive art to digital media art of today.

Sanborn’s work has manifested itself on television (Alive from Off Center, ABC, Channel 4, MTV, Great Performances, Comedy Central), as video installations (Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, Videoformes, ZKM), video games (Electronic Arts), Internet experiences (MGM, Microsoft, Jeu de Paume) and music/videos (Rick James, Van Halen, Nile Rodgers, Grace Jones, King Crimson, Tangerine Dream, and Philip Glass). He is known for his collaborations with a diverse representation of virtuosic performers, contemporary composers and choreographers. His oeuvre primarily addresses themes of stories and storytelling, philosophies of composition, the power of mythology and the resilience of memory – as he pursues his elusive sense of “NOT ME”.

Recent projects include live video/theater performances of God in 3 Persons, a collaboration with The Residents, at MoMA NY; commissions from the National Museum of Qatar, the City of Berkeley, and Jeu de Paume, Paris; solo exhibitions at Galerie Tokomona, Paris; Telematic Media Arts and 836M, San Francisco; and the premiere of “The Friend,” starring John Cameron Mitchell, at Festival Videoformes. In 2022 the ZKM presented a retrospective exhibition of Sanborn’s work, including a monograph to be published this year.

John Sanborn holds an honorary Master of Cinema degree from ESEC, Paris, and was honored as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the Minister of Culture of France. Sanborn’s YouTube channel has over 22 million views and over 100,000 subscribers.

Photo and trailer courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment.

Amanda Kim