Stream Nam June Paik's First Broadcast: "Electronic Opera #1" (1969)

This online stream took place May-8–October 3, 2021

Presented with Nam June Paik


Nam June Paik,Electronic Opera #1, segment from The Medium is the Medium, 1969 (still); Single-channel video, with sound, 4:45 min. Produced by WGBH-TV. Courtesy WGBH-TV, Boston

Nam June Paik’s Electronic Opera #1 first aired in 1969 as part of The Medium is the Medium, a special “artist transmission” commissioned by WGBH-Boston featuring experimental segments by Paik and artists Allan Kaprow, Otto Piene, James Seawright, Thomas Tadlock, and Aldo Tambellini.

Set to classical music and featuring “hippies,” a dancing model, and national political figures, Paik’s five-minute contribution is a form of what he called “participation television.” Here, he instructs you — his audience — to open or close your eyes while the hallucinatory images swirl and twist into frame. The original premiere marked Paik’s first foray into television broadcast and remains an early and ironic example of his ambition to turn inherently passive viewers into active and integral participants.