John Cage Performs James Joyce

Takahiko iimura

1991 | 00:15:07 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | BetacamSP video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Language, Literature, Music, Performance

An extremely rare documentation of a private performance of John Cage, one of the leading avant-garde composers of the 20th century, who created "Writing for the Fifth Time through Finnegan's Wake" using I-Ching chance operation: Chinese fortune telling.  Here Cage performs in front of a video camera operated by Takahiko iimura, while he transforms the text of a modern literature classic by James Joyce into Cagian music in three ways: reading, singing and whispering.

"Roaratorio is one of the classics of Cage’s oeuvre and in iimura’s 15-minute recording, John Cage Performs James Joyce, Cage presents the core of the spoken part of the work. Its composition, like many of his other works, is aided by the I-Ching. Here he briefly explains that none of the sentences (sic) in Finnegan's Wake are selected, only words, syllables and letters, from different pages according to the chance decisions made by consulting the I-Ching and its representational hexagrams."

-- Mike Leggett, Leonardo Digital Review, MIT Press

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Exhibitions + Festivals

Nam June Paik Art Center, John Cage, Nam June Paik and After, March 9-July 1 2012