Nam June Paik Tate Liverpool exhibition banner

Robot Family

In 1964 Paik created his first robot work, Robot K-456, in collaboration with engineer Shuya Abe. Able to walk, make noises and mimic other human acts, the robot often appeared as Paik’s alter ego in events or performances.

In the series Family of Robot, first shown in 1985, Paik continued his exploration of the possibilities of technologically constructed human beings, humorously acknowledging the social conventions of family relationships across different generations. Grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, uncle, aunt and babies represented the typical members of the traditional Korean family, with the younger generation robots becoming increasingly modern and technological in appearance.

Paik’s robots later extended beyond representations of generic family members to include specific historical or artistic figures. Although the works offer humorous interpretations of individual quirks and relationships, they also demonstrate Paik’s continued exploration of the complex interrelations of the human and the technological.