Some people have names that are perfect descriptors of their lives - William Whitelaw, Bob Diamond, Dan Quayle. John Cage is the exact opposite. He opened the doors and the windows so the rest of us could hear properly. His work was properly, rigorously conceptual at a time when that word really meant something. The trouble is that the descriptions of conceptual work nearly always sound much sillier than the work itself. His 4′33″ sounded daft when I read about it, but was completely magical when I performed it for myself a couple of days ago.
"When I hear what we call music it seems to me that someone is talking. Talking about his feelings, his ideas, his relationships. But when I hear this traffic here on 6th. Avenue I don't have the feeling that someone is talking. I have the feeling that sound is acting. And I love the activity of sound.
... People expect listening to be more than listening ... Sometimes they speak of the meaning of sounds. .. They think that for something to be just a sound is to be useless. Wheras I love sounds, just as they are. I have no need for them to be anything more. I don't want them to be psychological. I don't want a sound to pretend it's a bucket, or that it's president, or that it's in love with another sound. I just want it to be a sound."
For me it's important to make space for silences, especially after working so hard for a show. Thinking about John Cage also reminded me that paint is just paint and I love it for that, it doesn't have to pretend to be a bucket or the president. Maybe it's time to get the sticky stick out again.