to John Cage

Preparing for Performance, 2012

The year 2012 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage. On discovering that the art school piano had been housed temporarily under the stairs (and was effectively 'caged' and silenced) I started to play... As a prelude to the performance 'Conversation with a Silent Piano), it seemed appropriate to polish my shoes.

Excerpt from Conversation with a Silent Piano, 2012

John Cage 4'33" Performed by a Silenced/Caged Piano, 2012

Performances of John Cage 4'33" (Summer Silence I and Summer Silence II), 2012

A bit of a 'summer meditation'... or a 'garden concert'...Once a score is known, it can emerge unannounced at any time in one’s everyday life. In 2012, for example, the year of the centenary of the birth of John Cage, my neighbour’s gardener was busy. For several moments I observed and listened, mesmerised by first a grass trimmer and then a lawnmower through the fly screen of my open kitchen window. The grass trimmer recording became Summer Silence I and the lawnmower one became Summer Silence II. Both are performances of John Cage’s 4’33”, and include his scored instruction ‘tacet’ which in musical notation means ‘it is silent’.

Performance of John Cage 4'33" (Summer Silence I), 2012

Performance of John Cage 4'33" (Summer Silence II), 2012

Elevenses, 2012

Eleven minutes of silence during elevenses, starting at 11.11am on 11 June 2012 as an homage to John Cage and in celebration of the beginning of World Silly Week 2012: "11 glorious days of sanctioned social transgression".

Homage to John Cage #2, 2012

John Cage inspired many of the early Fluxus artists, particularly those who studied with him at the New School for Social Research in New York in the late 1950s. These artists included George Brecht, Dick Higgins and Jackson Mac Low, who all became central to the development of new performative art forms and Fluxus in the 1960s.* It is not generally known that John Cage was also a keen mycologist. The intention of this work is to celebrate his interest in mushrooms. Like many Fluxus works, it is playful both conceptually and in performance. There are plays on the word 'prepare', on the fact the piano had been unplayed for some time (and hence had grown mushrooms and the keys stick) and the impromptu appearance of an Australian Staghound during the performance became the coda (Cage mentions deer in the extract below).

Score: Prepare a piano with mushrooms. Play only the mushrooms. Coda (optional): Animal.

John Cage (1912–1992): composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher, artist and mycologist. "I have spent many pleasant hours in the woods conducting performances of my silent piece...At one performance, I passed the first movement by attempting the identification of a mushroom....The second movement was extremely dramatic, beginning with the sounds of a buck and a doe leaping up to within ten feet of my rocky podium." Cage, John 1961, Silence, Wesleyan University Press, p. 276.

* Source: Smith, Owen 1998, Fluxus: The History of an Attitude, San Diego University Press, p. 23.

Homage to John Cage, 2012

It is not generally known that John Cage was also a keen mycologist. The intention of this work is to celebrate his interest in mushrooms.

Vegetal Score for Piano (after John Cage), 2012

A simple homage to John Cage, made in 2012, the centenary of his birth. The words refer to the instructions in a music score which are usually in Italian. The plant which sits on top of my old Australian Beale piano appears to be the same as the one in John Cage's kitchen (see final scene of John Cage: 27 Sounds Manufactured in a Kitchen at youtube.com/watch?v=mGrhL49-YQw)

'C''A''G''E': Improvisation for Prepared Piano, 2012

A simple homage to John Cage on the occasion of 100 years since his birth on 5 September 1912. John Cage’s ‘prepared piano’ refers to where he put objects and ironmongery on and between the strings of a piano in order to change the sounds. I tried to change the sounds of my piano in a similar way, and wrote this score:

1.Prepare a piano by placing objects on the strings.

2.Play the notes C, A, G and E.


A Walk in the Park (in three movements), 2015

Where I live, I can see the river and the park. Often there seems to be a strange stillness which isn't still, and the reflections of people walking along the river's edge bring a smile to my face. This straight footage is simply masked/cropped and divided into three movements as a visual homage to John Cage and 4'33".