365 X 433
on january 1 of 2011 i began what would become, a year-long project, performing john cage’s 4’33″ every day for a year, completing the project on december 31, 2011. i kept a diary of the entire experience, notating each performance, and writing down thoughts in relation to my conversation with cage’s “silent piece”. while the initial idea was to simply find a space within each day to listen to my surroundings. as things moved along, it became less about notating the daily sounds around me, and more about using the sound/listening/performance experience to generate ideas and conversations - which ended up in a diary.
while i have drawn from cages works for many years, the impetus for the daily performances actually came from a conversation that takes place in the beginning of andrei tarkovsky’s film the sacrifice, where one of the characters says:
“say what you will, but a method, a system, has its virtues, you know, sometimes, i say to myself, if every single day, at exactly the same stroke of the clock one were to perform the same single act, like a ritual unchanging, systematic, every day at the same time, the world would be changed, yes something would change it would have to...”
while i did not perform the piece at the same time every day, i was interested in how the use of 4’33” as part of a daily practice might offer me an experience of unfolding, so that my assumptions of 4’33” in january would be subverted by december.
i first performed 4’33” in 2001, while making field recordings at the mak center/schindler house for an exhibition of site specific works. while i was mainly making recordings as source material i remembered that cage had lived in the house, so at midnight i performed 4’33” using the house as my instrument. in 2002, i used the score to determine one of my very first pure system-based paintings by translating the text of cage's score into a series of measured color-coded lines. it wasn’t until 2007 that i had an opportunity to hear the piece live in a traditional concert presentation, performed by james tenney - also at the schindler house.
over the past year and a half, i have, again, returned to the score for 4’33” to generate several large paintings and a sculpture.
all of my 2011 performances of 4’33” were private, meaning that even when i performed the piece in a crowded bar, at a concert or in the lobby at moma, i was always the only one who was aware that the performance was happening.
the diaries were recently shown in the exhibition “silence” at the menil collection, curated by toby kamps, and will also be part of the exhibition when it travels to the berkeley art museum in january.