Research point ~ create my own version of of Cage’s 4’33”

Sunny’s 4’33

I decide to attempt a slightly altered and more modern approach to Cage’s 4’33”. I selected for myself an audience of one, namely myself. This is my selfie version of the 4’33”. I videoed my lips whilst silently mouthing along to the ‘performance’ and simultaneously watching the video recording. The act of watching altered the speed of my lip movements. I felt compelled to speed up my movements. The more audio silence I perceived the more visual movement I added to compensate. My brain struggled with ‘total’ silence.

After playing back my clip I decided to add a few layers of complexity by editing and  treating the recording as a ‘live’ performance’. The above is a clip of the ‘live’ editing. I cut up the recording in different time lengths and ran them at different speeds, to create a digital version of Cage’s concept of time units to be filled. I had noticed that my mouthing had not been as silent as I thought it was, and that my lips had made some unintentional sounds, as had my body. The atmospheric sounds in the room and passing traffic had however not been picked up by the camera mic.

I chose to silence the lips smacking in some of my time units, but not all. In the units with slowed down time a new experience of the sound and digital artefacts were left in, documenting the video editing as a part of the performance. The choice of speeding up and slowing down was integral to the piece. Whenever re-editing this piece in real time it becomes a new and different piece/performance.

Finally, I should add that I don’t really experience this as music. I experience it as a mixture of meditation and performance art, but not necessarily as music. As much as I feel that silences are one of the most important aspects of music I can’t say that ‘silence’ alone feels musical to me. I am very interested in the Japanese concept of ‘Ma’ – negative space, or ‘non-form’ and I believe it can be applied to music. However, I feel it needs to exist in relation to actual space (i.e music). As much as I respect John Cage’s work and concepts I can’t really say that 4’33” does much for me.