Nam June Paik has had a widespread impact on video as an art form. Paik was trained as a composer in his native Korea and then, during the 1950s, in Japan and Germany. By the early 1960s, in Germany, he had become part of the loose, anarchic association of artists known as Fluxus and was creating provocative avant-garde performances in Europe and the United States. Among the first generation of video artists, Paik pioneered video sculpture and installations, incorporating television sets into his performances and his sculptural objects by the mid-1960s. In 1965 he also acquired a portable video-tape recorder, the then-primitive consumer equipment that had just come on the market, and he became one of the first artists to explore the artistic possibilities of videotape.
Global Groove is a videotape that combines three types of visual material. The first, which includes Japanese Pepsi-Cola advertisements and pop dancers moving rapidly to rock music, uses staccato image editing and extensive superimposition. The second includes a male Korean dancer, the poet Allen Ginsberg chanting, a female Navajo drummer, and performances by cellist Charlotte Moorman. These sequences are characterized by a ritual deliberateness of rhythm and video-processing techniques that emphasize lush and flowing imagery.
The initial rapid, energetic sequences and the subsequent slow, ritual ones reflect Paik's notion of two major states of being: ecstasy and dreaming. Mediating between these two states is a third: normal wakefulness, represented in Global Groove by interviews with composer John Cage and Charlotte Moorman and by some sequences that document performances.
Global Groove draws heavily on popular culture and on Paik's own earlier material. It bridges Paik's iconoclastic expression of cultural malaise and his enthusiasm for the possibilities of exceptional human experience. A milestone in the development of Paik's use of video, Global Groove has been acknowledged as an inspiration for the generation of video artists after him.