straight up
"What'll art become? A family reunion? If so, let's have it with people in the round, each individual free to lend his attention wherever he will."
John Cage, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma (foreground), and Carolyn Brown (background) in Variations V

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Click to play video Performance of Variations V

John Cage | Indeterminacy <1965>

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 1965.

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.