Cage on sound

Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 11:36:25 -0500 (EST)


Truck passing by factory or music school....

Well, from one point of view it's the same, and from another point of view
it's different.

It's the same if you ignore the usual contexts for art--***INCLUDING***
modern art. Duchamp's urinal put in a men's room at Port Authority Bus
Terminal on 42nd Street is one thing; Duchamp's urinal (signed) put in a
chic art gallery that features the latest and hippest new art is quite
another thing. (Decontextualization actually leads to a traditoinal 
kind of re-contextualization: "Ooooh. Ahhh. Oh! Don't pee in there! That's

Cage is **POST**-modern in this respect. He is saying that by all
traditional art standards, including the modern, a truck passing by a
music school makes a noise we might decide is "musical." (*Especially* for
modernists this could be the case!) But Cage wants you to consider the
factory.  He wants us to take the "Oooooh! Ahhhh! Hear that music!?" out
of our reception of sound. Once you extract all that from sound the sound
only then becomes music.

He wants you to consider the factory *not* because he's a
straightforwardly political (radical) artist--wanting you to see art as
related to the working world of workers and makers and producers and folks
unrelated to the aesthetic art-credentializing world. Not that. Rather, he
wants you to consider the faculty as so ordinary and so lacking in
"inherent" aesthetic interest that if you think about it long enough you
will realize that it can be made into a context for art.

Once it was super-experimental to say that a truck passing by a music
school could be art. (That's Williams! That's Duchamp [at least the
Duchamp of "found art"]. That's Stein!) Now Cage is going "beyond" that: a
truck passing by a factory can be as much a part of the aesthetic as a
truck passing by a music school.


| Al Filreis wrote:
| > 
| > 2) "Which is more musical: a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing
| > by a music school?"
| > 
| 	I guess both would sound pretty much the same, huh?  I mean, if 
| you are whizzing by doing 60mph, then Mr. Doppler says that you will not 
| be able to hear much of anything rather than an overlapping of sounds.  
| But maybe that's Cage's point.  Only by examining something, stopping 
| that truck, can I figure out which building is which.  Slowing down will 
| result in some factories, yes, but it will also result in the discovery 
| of something I would not have seen otherwise.

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