As a musician, composer, artist, poet, and philosopher,
John Cage's work rarely fit within the traditional boundaries
of artistic practice. In the late 1940s, during a residency
at Black Mountain College, he developed his provocative "theater
of mixed-means" in collaboration with the artists Robert Rauschenberg
and Jasper Johns, and the choreographer Merce Cunningham. These
experiments gave birth to an explosion of performance art in
the1950s and 1960s that introduced all types of actions, artifacts,
noises, images, and movement into the performance space, such
as in his own electronic theater work, Variations V from
The anarchic nature of Cage's work, with
its bold acceptance of indeterminacy (chance) as an integral
part of its composition, later encouraged the composer to extend
this new found freedom to include the participation of the audience.
Cage, inspired by Zen Buddhism, revels in an anarchy that dethrones
the artist as the heroic, all-powerful arbiter of creative expression.
He proposes instead a shift to an inclusive, participatory art
that encourages interaction between artist, performer and audience.