Interview with John Cage, 1984
NamesCunningham, Merce (Creator)Cage, John (Interviewee)Branca, Glenn, 1948-2018 (Associated name)
Merce Cunningham Video Archive
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1984
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZIDF 6764
TopicsComposersComposers -- United StatesModern dance
NotesContent: Title provided by cataloger, based on original container label.Venue: Recorded 1984. New York City.Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Physical DescriptionVideocassetteExtent: 1 videocassette (VHS) (95 min.) : sound, color ; 1/2 in.
DescriptionAn interview with John Cage from 1984, conducted in his New York apartment by a pair of University of Michigan student interviewers, whose identities are unknown as of this writing. They appear to be music and composition graduate students. Cage begins by talking about his childhood and early years in the Ann Arbor area, and speaks about his father. He then discusses the poetry reading he gave in Ann Arbor, and the influences that bear on his poetry, along with the ways his practice as a Zen Buddhist influences his art (2:52). This shifts into a consideration of the use of chance operations and Asian philosophy in Cage's creative process (6:00). The differences and commonalities between Cage's theatrical. musical and poetical works, focusing particularly on his use of language and sound to engender response, are then discussed, shading into musings on the contrast between the contrasting ways in which Western and Eastern audiences perceive identical works on a culturally shaped cognitive level (13:50). Following an abrupt edit and brief video dropout, Cage and his interlocutors discuss the nature of want and the genesis of creative inspiration on a spiritual and psychological level , with emphasis on the difference between controlled and freely anarchic hierarchies within an artistic ensemble. They especially debate the work of composer Glenn Branca (22:20). They then talk about the role of confusion versus clarity in terms of audience receptivity, then detouring into an exchange about the use of sound and tone once more (38:00). Cage then discusses the composition/performance he's currently working on (possibly the same year's A Collection of Rocks, though this is not certain) (43:00). Cage then talks about the method by which he considers a work to be 'finished', as well as considering the general impossibility of offering advice on the improvisatory creative process to others, which flows into a deeper investigation of the nature and uses of improvisation in art, especially as made possible by then emerging video art movements and software programs (48:00). Following what appears to be the end of the interview, additional footage appears in which Cage further discusses his relationship with audiences and their patterns of response and resistance to his and others' challenging work (71:15). Interview ends abruptly at 1:33:00.
Type of ResourceMoving image
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 980347886NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b21207925Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): d9b88d60-771d-0136-5642-035e6a9556b3
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