release date: 5 September 2023
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John Cage, composer, artist, writer, provocateur, citizen mycologist and much more was born 111 years ago on the 5th of September 1912. I’m publishing this 2023 episode on his birthdate. The composition is made in homage to him and the inspiration I’ve found in his work and ideas since the late 1970s.
On September 8, 2023 I opened a solo show of my drawing works at DRAW Space, a new artist-run gallery here in Gadigal/Sydney. One of the works is titled ‘Sound drawing for DRAW Space and John Cage’. It’s constructed from reworked post-consumer packaging, primarily plastic, cardboard and aluminium, formed into channels, tunnels, chutes and drops arranged in site-specific marble-run slaloms on the gallery walls.
A visitor climbs a platform ladder to drop quandong nuts into the tops of the slaloms. These natural wooden marbles sequentially sonify the various materials as they roll, zig-zag, drop and bounce along their gravity-assisted journey to terminal receptacles on the gallery floor.
Both visual score and sounding instrument, each slalom is an analogue sound sequencer creating a replicable noise-melody. While repetitive of the same sequence each ‘run’ varies depending on initial conditions and the momentary physics of material encounters along the way.
While not alone in exploring the creative potentials of chance operations and actively addressing questions about how to think about sound and what music might be John Cage was uncannily prolific and his influence across art forms wide-ranging. If you’re up for a little old-fashioned book-reading an excellent biography is Where the Heart Beats by Kay Larson, first published by The Penguin Press in 2012.
This episode is a new composition built from preliminary recordings of studio tests for the Sound Drawing work entwined with other sonic explorations of the past few months.