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Racial Recalibration

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Nam June Paik’s K-456

image of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

Widely recognized as the first video artist, Nam June Paik’s artistic career from the 1960s onwards is often understood through his pioneering appropriation of technological developments such as the television and video. Paik foresaw not only the aesthetic potential of video, but also other emerging technologies, such as robotics. While his work in robotic art is less commonly analyzed, it sheds significant light on his position not only as a foremost artist of new media but also on discussions concerning his ethnic identity. This essay demonstrates how, in the 1964 creation of robot K-456and TVBra for Living Sculpture, the artist deployed the strategy of racial recalibration—a racial formation that occurs through aesthetic tinkering, hacking, and recreating with emergent technologies that re-wires racial knowledge of the Asian American as robot.

Affiliations: 1: Visiting Researcher, Institute of American Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles, ca, USA,


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