p.p1 But is it silence?Eventhough the expectations

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0px ‘Helvetica Neue Light’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.

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0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Helvetica Neue Light’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 14.0px}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}span.s2 {text-decoration: underline ; font-kerning: none}’There’s no such thing as silence,’ Cage said.

On August 29, 1952, at the foot of a hill among tall trees in Woodstock, New York, in a rustic, barn-like music chapel, a tiny auditorium called the Maverick Concert Hall, David Tudor sat down at the piano, started a stopwatch, closed the lid and began to perform a piece which he did not play a note. After the following 30 seconds of silence, ‘Tudor opened the lid, closed the lid, reset the stopwatch and timed another two minutes 23 seconds of silence, then repeated the same action and timed another one minute 40 seconds of silence.'(Hermes 2000) But is it silence?Eventhough the expectations of a conventional concert of the broad audience from the city’s classical musical community were blasted, the music was there, made. After the premiere of 4’ 33 ” , the ‘silent piece’,  Cage reviewed, ‘You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.

‘(Ross 2010) . For Cage silence was as a way to make people listen and absorb the little sounds around them, the soundtrack of everyday life, to encounter them with the everlasting possibilities of ambient sound, and to ‘let sounds be just sounds’. And as in his famous imperative : ‘art must imitate nature in her manner of operation’ (Kaye 2007: 46) and what could have been a better way to introduce the determination through chance procedures than an indeterminate four and a half minutes of silence. ‘There is no such thing as an empty space or empty time. There is always something to see, always something to hear.’ (Cage 1961: 8). Given this increased awareness, what are the specific spatial characteristics which provides a perceptional space during the experience of listening, of the physical nature of sound, called ‘sound phenomenon’? Known as Cage’s vehicles into transcendental or virtual domain what are the roots of ‘chance’ and ‘silence’ in his life? In the context of 4′ 33”, what kind of relationships are there between the sound, space and body, and to what extend the dynamics of silence experience can be stretched to stillness experience in dance?  And consequently what does the mediation of this performance reveal about the relationship between silence and noise? Answers to such inquiries are sought through the philosophical and physical analysis of phenomenon of silence through mainly the investigation of 4′ 33′ by John Cage.It is inevitable not to touch upon the notion of phenomenon when delving into a conscious experience, in this case ‘silence’ as not the absence of sound, but the absence of intentional sound, an attention to the natural operation of auditory life.

“In philosophical terms, a phenomenon covers what is sensible: the perceptible information of experience and what human beings can grasp with the five senses. … And while one’s consciousness is without a doubt continually affected by one’s sensory input, the objective world is too unknowable compared to humanity’s experience of it.

“(Cunnington 2014: 1). As a physical phenomenon, sound occurs when a ‘source produce vibrations in air called sound waves (traveling longitudinal waves), the normal frequency range of which for human ear to hear are between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz’ (Berg 2017). Thus once a sound is produced, it takes a conscious experience (a certain awareness one has of the experiece while living through or performing it) (Smith 2016) as experienced from the subjective viewpoint of the observer to manifest what it represents, in such a way that the observer perceives it. For instance, when a hand hits the table, that sound comes from the relation between the hand and the table, a physical, tactile relation in space, meaning that, it is the physical nature of sound which allows itself to create the space. From another angle, in a case without visual content, such as an experience of sound when blindfolded, sound really creates a different sense of space comparing to previous example.

So it does not necessarily create space, but it creates a perception of space, and in both cases the person finds oneself in a position to that sound. And yet, we can clearly say that the spatial phenomenon of sound is relational. Furthermore, phenomenology, literally as the study of phenomena, contains the study of diverse types of experience such as perception, thought, memory, imagination, emotion, desire, volition, bodily awareness, embodied action, and social activity. According to Husserl, in the structure of these forms of experience, or consciousness, there is ‘intentionality’. (Smith 2016).

  Parallelly looking further to the directedness of John Cage’ s ‘silent piece’ experience, he intends to impose silence, and as a result of that, a dynamic dialogue with audience underlines the relational aspect of sound, even more so silence. Susan Sontag (1964) in her Against Interpretation and Other Essays writes on silence:Silence doesn’t exist in a literal sense, however, as the experience of an audience. It would mean that the spectator was aware of no stimulus or that he was unable to make a response… As long as audiences, by definition, consist of sentient beings in a “situation,” it is impossible for them to have no response at all.… There is no neutral surface, no neutral discourse, no neutral theme, no neutral form. Something is neutral only with respect to something else — like an intention or an expectation. As a property of the work of art itself, silence can exist only in a cooked or non-literal sense. (Put otherwise: if a work exists at all, its silence is only one element in it.

) Instead of raw or achieved silence, one finds various moves in the direction of an ever receding horizon of silence — moves which, by definition, can never be fully consummated. (Popova 2015)Inspired by the classes he was attending of D.T Suzuki at Columbia University in 1951, Cage’s rationale for his fundamental change in his life and artistic activity in terms of musical performance, composition and listening had its coordinate in the philosophy of Zen Buddhism. By ‘utilizing means of divination as the Chinese Book of Changes, namely, I Ching, he explored ways to write music through chance.’ (Larson 2013: 19). According to him ‘art should introduce us to life’, which in the context of Zen, ‘Nature’ and so ‘the real’, occurs as a mode of endless ‘becoming’, so it constantly ‘presents itself’ and is a process rather than an object. (Kaye 2007: 38). So, his approach to the operation of Nature through art became definite in his concept of ‘silence’, which he observed the time as ‘is what we and sound happen in’.

Furthermore, Cage realized his ‘silent’ piece first in 1952 to demonstrate the aim of his giving up of ‘intention’, as well as to actualize the impossibility of silence by making possible to gain sensible access to such an intangible entity at that moment of attention where an unintentional sonorous flow travels through space and occupies it. The articulation of space at that moment of attention by any sound, exemplifies the ‘relational aspect’ since the audience built a relation to the silence, therefore the sounds that are now exposed by that silence, and more interestingly another relation to the other bodies, namely the musicians, who are each reacting slightly differently. On January 2004, The BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lawrence Foster performed the silent 4′ 33 ” at the Barbican. Comparing to the first performance at Woodstock, New York, the hall is enormous, the audience is more in number and above all, there is a stageful of musicians holding their instruments in their hands that they are not allowed to play for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The intended awkwardness starts right with Foster’s command, everybody in the concert hall tries to be as mute as possible during all three movements, and between each there is a sequence of coughs, sneezes and all other bodily sounds rising from audience getting even noisier than before. The musicians are tense and seemingly feel exposed in a way. Everybody is on the edge of their body, with their human ears having a cat-like vulnerability to the unintended and unfamiliar sounds, possibly feeling trapped and uncomfortable in a concert hall.

  In process, the awareness of every single sound-body rises as they become almost animal bodies alert to every single uncalculated sound. Moreover, there is an effect of contagion happening in a sense that, first the musicians are holding their instruments they are not allowed to play with, and the body supposed to be actively involved in this, but now is not allowed to, and it still has to be present there. Thus, as soon as the restraint body of musicians becomes full of stimuli such as itching, coughing, stretching etc. , and inevitably creating tiny little sounds that we can feel, hear and see at this point of the video recording, the audience now is also picking that up. In other words, in that silence, those bodies grow a very strong relationship, and the more restless the musicians the more restless the audience.

Accordingly, there is a communication formed, on and around the activated bodies, therefore the space, by silence phenomenon, because of vibrations traveling around. As Dyson mentions (2009) “The experience of immersion relies upon stereoscopy to create a sense of depth and body monitoring to create a feeling of interactivity.” continues underlining that immersive sensation is bound up with the notion of proximity between sound and body, and  says especially for Cage “proximity offered the opportunity to envisage a new, technically augmented embodiment, one that could occupy transcendent space.”.  (Dyson 2009: 83-84)Continuing the analysis of the relationship between the sound, space and body, to introduce an alternative approach to this interplay, and a comparison to the previous focal point of impact of silence on the bodies of the musicians and the audience, might be helpful for us to deepen our understanding of silence experience. As mentioned before, the popular idea of silence is believed as the absence of sound, the ultimate restful state of relaxation, and we saw that it is not in the example of restless bodies. André Lepecki analysed, briefly, the ‘stillness’ and ‘microscopy of perception’ in dance for a significant amount of time, as a form of action, as an effort, contrary to something restful. Arguing that stillness is one of the hardest achievements for a dancer, the most contrived movement because it requires an absolute control over all the muscles, all the body, all at once.

That is to say, stillness is a compact and highly aware struggle of fixing the body, in respect of which it is nearly impossible to be completely still. Nevertheless, even when you are, your lungs are still breathing, your skeleton holding you upright and a light visceral movement vibrates on the outside surface of the body what Steve Paxton (1977) called ‘small dance’. Lepecki writes (2001): The symbolic and expressive qualities of stillness clarify the phenomenological nature of the (resistant) act of arrest. It is not synonym with freezing. Rather what stillness does is to initiate the subject in a different relationship with temporality. Stillness operates at the level of the subject’s desire to invert a certain relationship with time, and within certain (prescribed) corporeal rhythms. (Lepecki 2001: 2)Evidently, it is exactly equivalent to silence in the sense of operation and is interesting because, both contain bodies that are peeled off from their instruments of performance, far more present in space, with a closer, and more intense relation, of not being able to control themselves.

“To Whom It May Concern: The white painting came first, my silent piece came later” proclaimed Cage (1961). Mentioned painting was Rauchenberg’ s White Painting (1951), which fascinated him because “everything is so much the same, one becomes acutely aware of the differences, and quickly. And where, as here, the intention is unchanging, it is clear that the differences are unintentional, as unin- tended as they were in the white paintings where nothing was done.

” (Cage 1961: 98-102).  In Barbican performance of 2004, what all bodies have been doing for 4 minutes and 33 seconds is unintentional and random. Cage is forcing them to be in that edgy state of restlessness which has the endless potentiality of complete random events. And that is the way in which I Ching process of random proposition, not having control, falls into his framework that he imposed on himself as well as on the musicians and audience so everyone was in the same bag, ready to be aware of the differences, quickly. In that respect, with 4’33”, he was drawing the attention on listening itself while introducing indeterminacy and chance methods as generators of random process of events and happenings. Directing the audience into this expanded sense of listening, the practice exposes the sounds from bodily to geographical environments, inside and around of the experiencer.

Hearing your organs operating, for instance, or having ‘auditory hallucinations’ (Gardiner 2015) as a phone is ringing, actually sounds like an augmented reality experience in an analogue manner, which leads us to reconsider how we come to know the world through listening as we experience the everyday life.In the light of Cage’s mute manifesto, the composer and scholar Kyle Gann writes, “It begged for a new approach to listening, perhaps even a new understanding of music itself, a blurring of the conventional boundaries between art and life.” (Gann 2010)Eventually, with respect to the analysis of John Cage’s silent piece, the relational aspect in the spatial phenomenon of sound as well as silence, reveals that body being immersed within the uncontrolledness of both silence and stillness. Traditionally, the audience and the musicians are related to one another through the sound phenomenon, as the third element bonding the sound producers and receivers, however in this specific case, the lack of the familiar transmitter causes them to be in direct relation to one another. Thus, everyone’s position is less comfortable which intensifies the body-to-body, body-to-sound and body-to-self connections as human beings become more and more restless. Along this highly aware experience of contagiously interacting bodies, the randomness and the proximity offer opportunity to a byproduct, a new symphony, the symphony of noises. Having a brief glance that “Cage’s meditations on silence, noise, space, life, art, ephemerality, and technics exemplify the potency of sound for rethinking philosophy and aesthetics” (Dyson 2009: 84), with the occasion of my attempt of investing the spatial phenomenon of silence, let me give Cage the last word:Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise.

When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating. The sound of a truck at fifty miles per hour. Static between the stations. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them not as sound effects but as musical instruments.

Every film studio has a library of “sound effects” recorded on film. With a film phonograph it is now possible to control the amplitude and frequency of anyone of these sounds and to give to it rhythms within or beyond the reach of the imagination. Given four film phonographs, we can compose and perform a quartet for explosive motor, wind, heartbeat, and landslide. (Cage 1961: 3)


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