Buddhas in Grass

The Ultimate “What If”
Nam June Paik’s Waiting For UfO’s
And Its Analysis
Background Info of the Artist
• Nam June Paik is the artist behind the three
part sculpture showcased at Storm King Art
Center, Waiting for UFO, created in 1992.
• He was born in Korea and focused his
studies on music, aesthetics and art history
in Tokyo. Paik later decided to move to New
York which is where he lived for most of his
life, until he died in 2006 in Miami.
• He traveled the world which was a major inspiration for his artwork. His
use of televisions and video in his work eventually gave him the name
“Father of Video Art”.
Background of the Artwork
• An example of Paik's use of technology is in one of his most
famous pieces in which he put a statue of Buddha in front of a
TV. He then put a camera on top of it and had Buddha
watching himself on the TV.
• This was the start of a new
era of his art where he would
include one or more statues of
Buddha in his pieces. He would
often use the Buddha's
and Televisions to give different
messages about mankind.
Background of the Artwork
• Paik used different materials in his artwork sometimes to show the
modernization of humankind.
• He even considered where his sculptures were placed and how that
affected the reactions they received. For example, he paid attention to if
they were on flat land or a slope or what surrounded the sculpture.
• Lastly, he liked to leave people wondering when they look at his art. For
example, thinking about how the title might relate to the sculpture or how
the different aspects of the sculpture relate to each other. This is seen in
the faces in the ground in Waiting for UFO and with the Buddha figures
watching TV.
Landscape of Waiting for UFO
• Placed between two
trees, Waiting for UFO is a
engaging sculpture at Storm
King. For starters it is one of
the very few sculptures that
is placed in the ground
interacting with its
• Also, because it is placed
on a slope, it almost looks as
if the Buddha figures are about to fall any minute. Lastly this
sculpture is engaging because it invites you to walk around it
and look from any angle. It wants you to find different
perspectives of it and notice details that might have been
missed on the first look.
Landscape of Waiting for UFOs
Placing Waiting for UFO
between two trees is a very
interesting thing for Nam June
Paik (the artist) to have done. When
you look up you see the branches
covering all three of the Buddhas
and their TVs, but the trees don't
cover the faces, almost like the trees
don't care about them. An interesting
thing to notice is that because the
trees aren't covering the faces the
faces are looking up at the sky like
they're waiting for a UFO.
Landscape of Waiting for UFOs
In Storm King there is a famous statue called
Three-Legged Buddha. If you are at Waiting for
UFO and walk straight and go up a path, you
come across the Three-Legged Buddha sculpture.
Having two unique Buddha sculptures near each
other could not be a coincidence. Not only are
these sculptures hidden in a wooded area,
metaphorically describing the relationship
between human and religion, they also rearrange
the idea of Buddhism and religion to make us
think about them in a different way.
Faces in the Earth
A detail that is
surprising about Paik's
Waiting for UFOs, is
the inclusion if six
solemn faces
implanted in the
ground. As a group and
after careful
consideration we came
to the conclusion that
we believe that the
faces represent graves
of followers of the
Buddha who have died
waiting for
enlightenment and
waiting for answers
from their deities that
have not come.
Faces in the Earth
One reason this detail is revealing
is the placement of the faces,
they are buried on a hill, this
provides the illusion that there is
a body underneath the ground as
well and only the face has been
weathered. The weathering
implies that these people have
been buried for a very long time.
This means that after years of
waiting for answers from a God or
Gods these people died. Their
graves are planted in front of
three Buddha figures proving that
after years of spending time
waiting while alive, these people
are still devoted to their leaders.
Interactions between
Buddha and TV
In all three parts of Waiting
For UFOs, the main focus of
the piece are the figures
depicting Buddha facing old,
beaten up televisions. Paik
uses this theme within many
of his works. As stated in the
background information, Paik
uses this to comment on
aspects of human experience.
When one thinks about it,
religion and media are two
major characteristics of
modern human experience.
Interactions Between
Buddha and Television
Since the figures are facing the
television sets, they imply that
they are watching the screens. The
title, Waiting For UFOs, pushes the
viewer in the direction of what
Paik was trying to convey. It seems
that Paik’s “project” is asking,
“What if” to the development of
religions such as Buddhism. The
order of TVs, figures, then the
faces may show how the followers
of the Buddha think He is the one
with the answers, while, in reality,
the Buddha is receiving
information from extraterrestrial
life (UFOs).
Interactions Between
Buddha and Television
Since the entire piece
seems quite eroded, worn, and
old, it seems that they have
been waiting for centuries. This
shows how the devoted
followers, even though
deceased, are still waiting at the
hands of their religious leaders,
while the religious leaders are
still waiting for more
information from
extraterrestrials through
transmissions from machines
far too advanced for this era of
man. All in all, Paik is conveying
how religious ideas might come
from the stars above, given to
certain “prophets” to spread
throughout the human

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