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Program Two: Merce by Merce by Paik Part One: Blue Studio: Five Segments

Part of Dances for Camera: Merce Cunningham, Nam June Paik, John Sanborn Film Series

Stream online for free July 1–31, 2021

Nam June Paik in collaboration with Charles Atlas, Merce Cunningham, and Shigeko Kubota, Merce by Merce by Paik, 1978 (still); courtesy: Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York, and the Merce Cunningham Trust.

Merce by Merce by Paik Part One: Blue Studio: Five Segments
Merce Cunningham and Charles Atlas, 1975–76, 15 min 38 sec, color, sound, video
 
“Television obscures art in life, and life in art. Can we reverse time?”

This tribute to postmodern choreographer Merce Cunningham and 20th-century master Marcel Duchamp continues Nam June Paik’s collaborative impulses and uses video, dance, and broadcast television to contemplate art, life, and time.

Blue Studio: Five Segments is part one of this two-part pioneering “videodance” work by Cunningham and artist Charles Atlas, filmmaker-in-residence with the Cunningham Dance Company. A co-production with New York public television station WNET, the work combines Paik’s video art approach and the “chroma key” technique, which allows superimposing of background images onto the blue area of a video screen. Using this process, Cunningham is transported from the studio space to various superimposed landscapes and chromatic color voids where he moves and multiplies outside of linear time and across shifting locales. An audio collage by Nam June Paik, featuring the voices of John Cage and Jasper Johns, add a sonic note to this highly constructed performance.

Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York, and the Merce Cunningham Trust.