Chance operations

John Cage’s centennial will be observed in 2012 and celebrations begin this year with a three-day conference in early October (co-sponsored by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, the University of North Carolina at Asheville and The John Cage Trust). Black Mountain College is a sweet spot in the history of the American avant-garde; Cage spent the summers of 1948, 1952 and 1953 there and the origin of the happening is sometimes traced to Cage’s performance of Theater Piece No. 1 at BMC in 1952 (Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, David Olson, M.C. Richards and David Tudor also participated).

So I submitted a proposal (PDF) to participate in the conference and it’s been accepted. Here’s my brief description —

JC273 is a book project investigating chance, memory and representation. The printed work, to be published on the occasion of ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 3, is conceived as a reliquary of pages — a bound container of color fields and image relics selected and designed by chance operations. The book will be at once a translational work, an experimental portrait and a performative tribute, using 273 seconds (4’33”) and individual pixels to slice open expansive views into the John Cage mythology. JC273 will explore the impossibility of the image — dismantling the photograph to render it irrelevant, as it disappears. The viewer is left with faint traces of source material and the freedom to investigate phantom images, imagined narratives and other associations.

JC273 will be presented as a limited edition printed book, an unlimited edition PDF download and an on-site performance.

I’m going to use this space to document the process as I create, publish, present and perform this book during the next two months (the conference is October 7–9 in Asheville). It’s a good way for me to continue the investigation I began in Rome and to keep my book work moving forward, as I begin to think more and more about publishing.

Several questions/investigations seem to come closer together with JC273 —


  1. silence is golden

  2. You got me hooked on this! I am reading Josef Albers’s “Interaction of Color” again, so it is quite interesting…

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