The Friday Film – John Cage “Water walk”

This week’s Friday Film is John Cage’s Water Walk.

Did you know that John Cage created visual art too? Take a look – it’s quite lovely.

9 More Quotes from John Cage

You mustn’t become hypnotised by intellectual categories, continuous-discontinuous, stable-unstable, etc., which supposedly make it possible to think time.


People always think that there is something to understand. They imagine that the composer really had something in mind.


Above: John Cage, 33 1/3, 1969. Installation view at daadgalerie Berlin, 1988–89. Courtesy of the John Cage Trust. Photo: Werner Zellien, © Archiv Broken Music, Werner Zellien

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I keep my mind alive and alert, or at least I try to. As a result, everything dissonant, I hear as consonant. [I hear not only the number two, but also the plurality of the number one.]

That is why I try to make my music resemble my life. May it be free and without goal! That is, without object.

That is, since Tao, the ultimate term, is nothing or Nothingness, we could also conclude that we shouldn’t become mesmerised by the difference and that there is no ultimate term. Thus, no system.

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That’s exactly it. Impose nothing. Live and let live. Permit each person, as well as each sound, to be the centre of creation.

Yes, ‘experimental’ – meaning what happens before one has had the time to measure it.


5 Quotes from John Cage

Each person, I repeat, is free to experience his own emotions. But they are no more important than ordering chicken! That means that you can’t dwell on them, you must learn how to detach yourself from them.

I have always been very fond of working in a team. It is a way of working which conforms to chance’s way of necessarily liquidating the habits of the ego.

While in the case of the ashtray, we are indeed dealing with an object. It would be extremely interesting to place it in a little anechoic chamber and to listen to it through a suitable sound system.

Chance, as I use it, is not something that I must control, nor that must control me. It is not the chance of the physicist. But that does not mean the physicist’s chance shouldn’t exist.

But the contrast between the freedom of sounds and the non-freedom of the dancers should give them the idea that a ballet is an encounter, a collision, and not just a unison.


My Top 10 John Cage Visual Art Pieces

John Cage is my favourite artist (along with Louise Bourgeois). Although he’s perhaps most well-known for his music and writing, he also created some fantastic visual art. Here are my top 10. Enjoy!

  1. mushroom-book-plate-x-1972
  2. dramatic-fire-1989 Images 1 & 2 taken from here.
  3. Screen-Shot-2015-03-24-at-9.19.36-PM Above: John Cage, Dereau #3, 1982. One from 38 related colour etchings with aquatint, engraving, photo-etching and drypoint. 181⁄2 x 241⁄2 in. Published by Crown Point Press. Taken from here.
  4. o-JOHN-CAGE-900 Above: “New River Watercolor,” Series II, #2, 1988. Watercolour on paper. Courtesy College for Creative Studies’ Center Galleries. Taken from here.
  5. not-wanting-to-say-anything-about-marcel-1969
  6. score-without-parts-40-drawings-by-thoreau-twelve-haiku-1978 Images 5 & 6 found here.
  7. john-cage-ryoanji-17-feb-1988-c-john-cage-trust2 Above: John Cage Ryoanji 17 February 1988 -pencil on Japanese handmade paper. Taken from here.
  8. JC_SGI2718_new_river_watercolor_series_1_5_HR4 Above: New River Watercolors (Series I, #5), 1988, watercolor on paper, 18 x 36 inches. Found here.
  9. AtlasEcliptSketch5f965
  10. o-JOHN-CAGE-570 Above: “Eninka,” #20/50, 1986. Smoked paper and branded print on Gampi paper chine colle. Courtesy College for Creative Studies’ Center Galleries.

Doodle Tuesday – Louise Bourgeois


This week’s doodle comes from Feminist Surrealist (not officially either) Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Probably most well-known for her cells (below) and giant spiders, Bourgeois’ sketches always hit me the hardest.


Above: Sculpture by Bourgeois in theDomestic Incidents group exhibit at London’s Tate Modern Turbine Hall, 2006

I think I’m ready to say that she’s my favourite artist now. Or at least that she ties with John Cage. Yes, I don’t think they’d mind sharing. They’re both so inspirational.


Born Louise Josephine Bourgeois
25 December 1911
Paris, France
Died 31 May 2010 (aged 98)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.

Her mother’s death inspired her to abandon mathematics and to begin studying art. Her father thought modern artists were wastrels and refused to support her. Good old Wikipedia

The Visual Art of John Cage

John Cage: Every Day is a Good Day from De La Warr Pavilion

Through a long career, John Cage was an important figure in the worlds of music, visual contemporary art and sound art, as well as many academic paths. He was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism and chance methods. He attempted to make “just music” and “just art”, with no meaning or message attached to it and no concern for aesthetics, just as the Dadaists did before him.

From the late 70s until his death in 1992, Cage made prints every year at Crown Point Press in San Francisco:


Eight Pearls of Wisdom from John Cage

John Cage was a 20th century contemporary music composer, visual artist, writer and mushroom enthusiast, immersed in Zen Buddhism. Probably most famous for composing a piece of total silence, Cage is one of my favourite people to have ever existed. He had the idea that music should allow the performer and the listener similar status. Fascinated by ancient practices (I-Ching) and nature, Cage also embraced the possibilities that came with new technology. If you don’t know him and you’re intrigued, I recommend reading his Lecture on Nothing. I read this in his book Silence, but I believe it can be found online too.

Today I’ll be sharing eight Cage nuggets from Sixty Answers to thirty-three questions from Daniel Charles found in the book For the Birds. In Cagean style, these have been chosen randomly, as has the number eight!

  1. There is one thing we do not do, and that is to use an answering service. It is one of the greatest urgency – even an ethical matter – that we be able to reach one another. Even those who are egotists will change their minds about interruptions (that is, they will become superficially moral) : telephone communications received will be the means by which their social credit exceeds a basic economic security (keeping social usefulness in mind).
  2. A completely modern means involves the use of a computer. The yield is voluminous, fascinating.
  3. You are right: it couldn’t be otherwise. Innocent vision. But we have a gift for making things ugly. Someone all alone will always darken the corner where he is without any trouble at all. When Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilisation, he said: ‘it would be nice.’
  4. There are two ways to fall down a mountain. One is to slip while you are climbing up. The other is natural. Once you have reached the summit and begin to go down, you gain speed.
  5. When you leave a reception, after you say good-bye to the host, you seek out the hostess to thank her. The family idiots, whom at one time you might also have thanked, are unfortunately no longer kept at home.
  6. Interpenetration
  7. Nothing else to do.
  8. The social situation is critical. The one who does what’s already done no longer counts. That something is done means that it is not necessary for someone else to do it. One hand suffices; two is one too many. Hands are not possessive – they belong to the same body.