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TV Buddha



Nam June Paik

Korea, United States of America

20 Jul 1932 - 29 Jan 2006


Nam June Paik was a pioneer of video installation in the early 1960s. Associated with the international conceptual movement Fluxus, Paik regularly collaborated with other Fluxus artists such as Joseph Beuys and George Maciunas.

In 1976 John Kaldor invited Paik and his collaborator, the cellist Charlotte Moorman to create a Kaldor Public Art Project in Australia. As part of the project Moorman played the ‘TV cello’. Made from three televisions removed from their sets so that their inner workings can be seen, with an attached cello bridge, tailpiece and strings forming a cello-like instrument.

‘TV Buddha’ was also made in Sydney in 1976 using an old wooden Maitreya (Buddha of the future) from the Kaldor collection. ‘Kaldor candle’ was made in 1996 for John Kaldor, who remained friends with Paik until the artist’s death in 2006. Both ‘TV Buddha’ and ‘Kaldor candle’ employ a conceptual use of video – first developed by Paik – in which a camera and a monitor loop in real time, blurring the object–subject distinction. This feedback idea was used by leading conceptual artists in the 1970s, including Bill Viola, Dan Graham and Mike Parr.




Materials used

television monitor, video camera, painted wooden Buddha, tripod, plinth


installation dimensions variable :

a - buddha, 75 x 36 x 36 cm

b - TV monitor, 32 x 32 x 32 cm

Signature & date

Buddha signed


Gift of the John Kaldor Family Collection 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Nam June Paik

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 7 publications


Nicholas Baume, From Christo and Jeanne-Claude to Jeff Koons: John Kaldor art projects and collection, Sydney, 1995, 33 (illus.), 85. installation view with Nam June Paik

Stephanie Britton (Editor), Artlink.Contemporary art of Australia and the Asia-Pacific, "Korean art now. A conversation between Kim Hong Hee and Alison Carroll", pg.46-49, South Australia, Mar 2013, 47 (colour illus.).

Adam Free, Journey to now: John Kaldor art projects and collection, Adelaide, 2003, 61.

Anne Kirker, The Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 2002, "Nam June Paik, Whimsical encounters without end", pg. 78-81, Brisbane, 2002, 81 (illus.).

Daniel Thomas, 40 years: Kaldor Public Art Projects, 'Reminiscing', pg.37-41, Sydney, 2009, 40 (illus.), 114 (illus.).

Wayne Tunnicliffe (Editor), John Kaldor family collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2011, 160, 162-63 (colour illus.).

Wayne Tunnicliffe, Look, 'Kaldor and contemporary', pg.26-29, Sydney, Apr 2011, 28.