John Cage 's Work Of Art

1063 WordsMay 1, 20175 Pages
John Cage’s work, 4’33, premiered in 1952. It is comprised of three movements, during which the performer opens and closes the lid to signal the beginning and end of each segment. The piece is based on indeterminacy, the idea that the piece will change each time it is performed. Indeterminacy was a reaction to serialism, where every aspect of a piece of music was structured to avoid repetition. Paul Ziff, an artist and philosopher, wrote an article in 1997 titled, “Anything Viewed.” This article asserted that a work of art is something that is “fit to be an object of aesthetic attention” (Ziff, 1997). He classifies this fitness based on a person “p”, who performs a certain action “a” with a work, or entity “e” under the right conditions…show more content…
When this piece was performed for the first time at an event for sponsors of avant-garde music, the audience was confused and upset. They had spent money to—what they perceived as sit in silence—only to watch a man open and close a lid six times. When we listened to this piece in class on April 21, 2017, we were informed of the piece beforehand and were expecting an allotted time of silence. While sitting in expected silence, we heard the noises of the room, people drinking water, coughing, and breathing. But the original audience was listening for traditionally understood sounds. Additionally, as Ziff comments on the Sistine Chapel murals and how they are not “aesthetically worthwhile,” because the conditions have failed the person (1997). He states, “it would be worthwhile if… the Chapel was turned on its side,” otherwise, it is painful too look at and difficult to see in detail. Based on these criteria, 4’33 is a work of art based on these criteria. A person can perform an action with the entity in certain circumstances. If the individual is aware of the piece being performed, he can perform an action with the piece by interacting with its message of how we live our lives in expectation while also blocking out other aspects that we otherwise would have experienced. Of course, this is all based on the circumstances, there are certainly
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