Nam June Paik

“Nam June Paik’s Zen for Film (1962–64) is a typical Fluxus work devised in the spirit of concretism. It consists solely of clear film leader of the type anyone can buy. Image and object are identical. Even the dust and scratches that accumulate during the projection are incorporated into the artwork itself. […] In November 1965, Jonas Mekas organised the New Cinema Festival in the Film-Makersʼ Cinematheque. [...] As part of this festival, Paik showed Zen for Film for the first time as a live performance at the Cinematheque in New York; during the projection of the clear film, Paik performed actions in front of the screen as a ‘living film’.”1

Originally, Zen for Film was thus a live projection of 35 mm or 16 mm clear film. The gradual changing of the film layer through dust and scratches caused by the projection over time is all part of it. 

Birgit Hein


1 Birgit Hein, “Die Idee von Musik und die Idee von Film: Cage – Fluxus – Film” in Wulf Herzogenrath and Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (eds.), “John Cage und …” Bildender Künstler – Einflüsse, Anregungen, Cologne 2012, pp. 154162, here pp. 156159.


In the exhibition:

Nam June Paik
Zen for Film, 1962–64
Estate Nam June Paik – Ken Hakuta

Nam June Paik
Zen for film (Edition), 1964
Plasticbox with super 8 film
10 × 12 × 3,5 cm
Private collection

Nam June Paik
Tribute to John Cage, 1973
29:02 min
Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Wulf-Herzogenrath- Archiv;
ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie; Electronic Arts Intermix


Additional information about the artist