From: andrew lampert (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jun 19 2008 - 14:33:19 PDT
I organized a big John Cage film festival in 2004 at Anthology Film Archives. This was subsequently presented in a few different forms in Germany, Canada and maybe elsewhere. I'm attaching the program notes below.
VARIATIONS: JOHN CAGE FILM AND
Composer, poet, painter,
philosopher, or as Arnold Schoenberg put it, âan inventor of geniusâ. These are a few descriptions one might
when explaining John Cage to the uninitiated. In only 79 years, Cage managed to
produce more music, art and ideas than practically any other individual of his
generation. This film and video festival focuses on movies that invoke Cage in
words, in sound, in action and in thought. From Cage-scored experimental
shorts, to feature length documentaries about his works and collaborators,
these 14 programs bring to light the brilliantly diverse legacy of John Cage.
For their generous assistance in
making the Festival possible, Anthology would like to thank Laura Kuhn of The
John Cage Trust; Brian Brandt, Okkyung Lee and everyone at Mode Records; Stacy
Sumpman and David Vaughan of the Merce Cunningham Foundation; Frank Scheffer;
Elliot Caplan; Nam June Paik and Shigeko Kubota; Taka Iimura; Stephen Chodorov;
Joel Chadabe; Vivian Perlis; Ray Kass; Alfred Leslie; Stacey Wong/C.F. Peters;
Kitty Cleary/MoMA Circulating Film; Ilka Schmidt/Norddeutscher Rundfunk.
Wednesday January 21
FILMMAKER IN PERSON!
1995, 84 minutes, 16mm. Made in
collaboration with Andrew Culver.
FROM ZERO is a conceptual
documentary that uses Cagean procedures to paint a portrait of the great
composer. Renowned Dutch director Scheffer (familiar to new music aficionados
for work with Elliott Carter and Bang On A Can, among others) and former Cage
assistant Andrew Culver combine four short films to make one compelling suite.
Featuring gorgeous cinematography, interviews and a performance of the
composition FOURTEENby the Ives
Ensemble, FROM ZEROis above all
a definitive look at chance operations in process. This screening celebrates
the DVD release of FROM ZERO on Mode Records.
1987, 3:50 minutes. Short
experimental film on the complete opera âRing Des Nibelungenâ by Richard
Wagner. Conceived by John Cage.
STOPERAS I & II
1987, 2:50 minutes. A condensed
experimental film of the complete operas âEuroperas I & IIâ composed by
1995, 5 minutes. âFilm in which
Cage explains that he has a commission for an opera and is thinking of building
up and breaking down Duchampâs âEtant Donnes.â That would a no(h)-opera.â
TIME IS MUSIC
1987. 30 minutes. A short
documentary on Cage.
Thursday January 22
POEMFIELD NO. 7
(Computer Art Series No. 7) 1968,
16mm, color, sound, 4-1/4 min. Music by John Cage.
Programmer: Ken Knowlton, b/w
computer graphics colorized by Brown and Olvey.
A computer generated, text based
Stan Vanderbeek /Gordon Mumma
1965/1966, 50 minutes, 16mm
(shown on video). NDR TV, Hamburg.
VARIATIONS V was performed on July 23, 1965, by the Merce
Cunningham Dance Company with music by and performed by John Cage, Malcolm
Goldstein, Gordon Mumma, James Tenney, and David Tudor, with films by Stan
VanDerBeek, and video by Nam June Paik. Robert Moog had built special antennas,
actually modified theremins, that were positioned throughout the stage to
trigger musical events when dancers passed by.
1995, 52 minutes, 16mm.
WAGNERâS RING 1987, 3:50 minutes.
STOPERAS I & II 1987, 2:50
NOPERA 1995, 5 minutes.
TIME IS MUSIC 1987, 30 minutes.
See notes for Wednesday January
FILMMAKER IN PERSON!
1989, 35 minutes, color/b&w,
video. Directed Elliot Caplan and Merce Cunningham. Choreography by Merce
Cunningham; music by John Cage, âCartridge Musicâ (1960); design by Elliot
Caplan; costumes by Mark Lancaster, Suzanne Gallo. Produced by Cunnigham Dance
Foundation and La SEPT.
Dancers: Helen Barrow, Kimberly
Bartosik, Emma Diamond, Victoria Finlayson, Alan Good, Chris Komar, David
Kulick, Patricia Lent, Larissa McGoldrick, Dennis OâConnor, Kristy Santimyer,
Robert Swinston, Carol Teitelbaum, Robert Wood.
Merce Cunningham choreographed
âChanging Stepsâ in 1973 and it was first included in a performance given at
the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York. In its original form it consisted of a
solo dance for each member of the company, 5 duets, 3 trios, 2 quartets, and 2
quintets, which could be performed in any order, and separately or overlapping
if space allowed.
BEACH BIRDS FOR CAMERA
1993, 28 minutes, b&w/color,
35mm. Choreography by Merce Cunningham; music by John Cage, âFour3â; costumes
by Marsha Skinner. Produced by Cunningham Dance Foundation. Dancers: Helen
Barrow, Kimberly Bartosik, Michael Cole, Emma Diamond, Victoria Finlayson,
FrĂŠdĂŠric Gafner, Alan Good, David Kulick, Patricia Lent, Larissa McGoldrick,
Randall Sanderson, Robert Swinston, Carol Teitelbaum, Jenifer Weaver.
BEACH BIRDS FOR CAMERA is a 35mm
wide-screen film adaptation of a dance work originally made for the stage. When
it was first suggested to John Cage that he should create a work in
collaboration with Merce Cunningham for the 1991 James Joyce/John Cage Festival
in Zurich, Cage had the idea to write a large-scale piece to be called âOcean,â
which refers to the fact that James Joyceâs projected next book after
âFinnegans Wakeâ was to be called âOcean.â No suitable space was available for
such a project so it was decided that instead, they would make a new dance for
the Merce Cunningham Dance Companyâs repertory. Cunningham had always intended
to call his part of the work âBeach Birds,â and he kept the title.
Friday January 23
1991, 95 minutes, b&w/color,
stereo. Choreography by Merce Cunningham; music by John Cage; written by David
Vaughan. Produced by Cunningham Dance Foundation in association with La SEPT.
CAGE/CUNNINGHAM is a feature film
portrait tracing the history of the collaboration of choreographer, Merce
Cunningham and John Cage, which began nearly fifty years ago at the Cornish
Institute of Allied Arts in Seattle, Washington.
In telling the story of
Cunningham and Cage, award winning filmmaker and Cunningham collaborator, Elliot
Caplan, utilizes candid footage of their activities around the world since
1983, rare footage from the Cunningham and Cage archives, and interviews with
principal figures involved in the collaboration. Mr. Caplanâs daily contact
with Cage and Cunningham has inspired a revealing and sensitive portrait of two
men whose spirit of adventure and iconoclastic thinking have helped to
revolutionize life, as well as art in the twentieth century.
1944, 15 minutes, 16 mm.
John Cage appears (alongside
Parker Tyler, Alexander Hammid and Philip Lamantia) in a group of men walking
along a path in Derenâs landmark avant-garde film.
1967, 27 minutes.
John Cageâs enigmatic questions
about sound are intercut with some of the most ambitious experiments of Rahsaan
Roland Kirk. While Kirk plays three saxes at once, switches to flute,
incorporates tapes of birds played backwards, and finally hands out whistles to
the audience and encourages them to accompany him, Cage is preparing a piece
for musical bicycle with David Tudor and Merce Cunningham.
1994, 45 minutes.
HPSCHD, a collaboration between
John Cage and Lejaren Hiller, first performed on May 16, 1969 at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, called for 7 harpsichords playing
randomly-processed music by Mozart and other composers, 51 tapes of
computer-generated sounds, approximately 5,000 slides of abstract designs and
space exploration, and several films, all of which were performed or presented
simultaneously in an asynchronous and exuberant anarchy of activity. HPSCHD was
the ultimate multimedia experience. This documentary captures a restaging of
this seminal Cage âhappening,â performed in Holland in the early 90s.
Saturday January 24
JOHN CAGE: I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY
AND IâM SAYING IT
1990, 60 minutes, video. Produced
by Allan Miller and Vivian Perlis for PBS American Masters series.
A performance biography of the
composer with segments from pieces for âprepared piano,â a piano modified by
placing an assortment of objects against selected strings to alter the sound,
percussion instruments, conch shells, whistles and bird calls.
JOHN CAGE MUSHROOM HUNTING IN
1972-73, 7 minutes, color, 16mm,
With Shari Dienes, Jeni Engel,
Shalom Gurewitz, Shigeko Kubota, and Nam June Paik.
Filmic impressions of Cage
mushroom hunting on his home ground of Stony Point, New York; visiting his home
for the last time; radiating love towards his friends; and buying fruits and
vegetables at the farm market before returning to New York City.
âCage collecting Mushrooms in the
woods!â -- The Village Voice
MARCEL DUCHAMP AND JOHN CAGE
1972, 28:27 minutes, b&w and
Video pioneer Kubota captures and
visually transforms the unimaginable meeting of Cage and Duchamp in the midst
of a match on an electronically wired chessboard. And that is only the
THE COLLABORATORS: CAGE,
1987, 55 minutes, color, video.
Moderated by David Vaughan. Produced by KCET Public Television. Dancers: Karole
Armitage, Karen Attix, Helen Barrow, Louise Burns, Ellen Cornfield, Susan
Emery, Morgan Ensminger, Karen Fink, Lise Friedman, Alan Good, Neil Greenberg, Meg
Harper, Catherine Kerr, Chris Komar, Robert Kovich, Judy Lazaroff, Joseph
Lennon, Charles Moulton, Susan Quinn, Rob Remley, Julie Roess-Smith, Robert
The first part of this
documentary features a revealing and informal discussion between Cunningham and
his longtime collaborators Cage and artist Robert Rauschenberg. Their lively
interchange is intercut with archival footage from their collaborative works,
âTravelogue,â âMinutiae,â and âAntic Meet.â They discuss designing and
composing for dance, aesthetic philosophies, and the adventures encountered
when touring and performing together. The second part consists of a filmdance
titled COAST ZONE.
Nam June Paik and John Godfrey
1973, 28:30 minutes, color,
In this seminal masterpiece, Paik
takes us on a tour of the world as seen through video glasses. A glorious
kitchen sink of synthesized images featuring everyone from Cage and Cunningham
to Richard Nixon and Charlotte Moorman performing the infamous TV Bra for
Living Sculpture. A video so great that it might just leave you humming Mitch
Ryderâs Devil In A Blue Dress.
Nam June Paik
MERCE BY MERCE BY PAIK
1978, 28:45 minutes, color,
sound. Made in collaboration with Charles Atlas, Merce Cunningham, and Shigeko
A very loving two-part tribute to
both the revered choreographer Merce Cunningham and Marcel Duchamp. The first
section, known as BLUE STUDIO, manipulates a Cunningham dance in a video
environment. The second segment uses an interview with Duchamp and images from
daily life to ask the question; âIs this dance?â
Nam June Paik
A TRIBUTE TO JOHN CAGE
1973, 29:02 minutes, color,
Cage was one of Paikâs greatest
influences, and this video documents their collaborations and long lasting
friendship. Along with footage of Cage is performances, words and thoughts from
copmposers Marianne Amacher, Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, David Tudor, Richar
Teitelbaum and many more.
CAGE SHORTS PROGRAM ONE
John Cage / Frank Scheffer
1988, 18 minutes. Produced by
A conceptual film directed by
1988, 24 minutes.
âA Connectional film in
juxtaposition with the composition âEtudes Borealesâ by John Cage.â â Frank
Lawrence F. Brose
1990 , 20 minutes, color, 16mm.
Music by John Cage; performed by the Buffalo New Music Ensemble.
âThe cinematic challenge here was
to create a visual image of musical glissandi. In his notes on RYOANJI,
composer John Cage requested that the glissandi be ânon-vibrato and as close as
possible to the sound events found in nature rather than those occurring
normally in music. The score is otherwise a âstill photographâ of mobile
The images are put onto this film
by hand. Rather than a series of photographs one after another, the image on
the screen is of lines etched along the entire length of the film, providing a
sustained, continuous image. This establishes a visual continuum. Also, using
images of nature, I take these moving images and stack-print them onto each
other, six, 12, or even 24 times to create another kind of movement. âLawrence Brose
Sunday January 25
Roberta Friedman, Don Gillespie,
49 WALTZES FOR THE FIVE BOROUGHS
1977, 120 minutes. Additional
camera work by Carl Teitelbaum, Arlene Schloss and Louis DâAgostino. Sponsored
by Black Maria Inc. with funding from Thomas Buckner and The Foundation for the
Contemporary Performance Arts.
âCageâs text-score of â49 Waltzes
for the Five Boroughsâ consists of 147 specific sites in New York City which
Cage determined by chance operations and arranged into individual groups of
three locations (âwaltzesâ). His musical score is a 44âx 64â colored map of New
York City upon which he superimposed multi-colored triangles whose extremities
indicate the various locations. Cage intended for the Performer or Listener or
Record maker to go to each of the locations and to listen to the sounds (or
âmusicâ) of the city. For this video realization of the score we went to each
of Cageâs specified locations, set up a camera and recorded the surroundings
with an automatic panning device. There are 3 locations or âmovementsâ for each
âWaltzâ. The length of each shot was determined by Cagian chance operations,
supervised by Andrew Culver. The sequence of waltzes on the finished videotape
was also chance determined.ââthe Filmmakers.
JAMES JOYCE, MARCEL DUCHAMP, ERIK
SATIE: AN ALPHABET
2001, 72 minutes, video.
A theatrical realization of
Cageâs radio play, conceived and directed by Laura Kuhn, executor of The John
Cage Trust. The video captures a single performance of the piece at UCBâs
Zellerbach Auditorium. Features Merce Cunningham as Erik Satie, and John Kelly
as the Narrator. The âsound effectsâ score was realized from Cageâs manuscript
notes by the New York composer Mikel Rouse. A New York City premiere!
Sung Yeon Son
2003, 7 minutes.
An animated film using Cageâs
âSonatas and Interludesâ as its score.
John Cage on Television
IâVE GOT A SECRET
January, 1960. 30 minutes,
Cageâs appearance on the popular
TV gameshow, co-starring panelist Zsa Zsa Gabor. Unbelievable.
STEPHEN CHODOROV / CAMERA THREE
Aspects of a New Consciousness,
1969, 30 min, color, sound.
A historical document, produced
in 1969 for the CBS television program CAMERA THREE. In a wide-ranging dialogue
Cage explains aspects of his work, his aesthetic philosophies, his working
processes, and artistic strategies. He also comments on the methodologies and
references that informed specific compositions, including âVariations IIâ and
âThe Williams Mix.â
New York City and Cambridge,
Mass., September 11, 1971.
The work contains directions for
the realization of a TV-film. It was written at the request of WGBH Television,
Cambridge, Massachusetts. The score is similar to that of âRozart Mixâ in that
it comprises the correspondence between Cage, WGBH-TV and Eva Smerchek of the
Caledonia Womanâs Club (who asked Cage to donate a work for a benefit auction
for retarded children). The published score consists of 3 leaves, the first of
which is a letter from Mrs. Eva Smerchek, the second a fax leaf with Cageâs
reply and the third contains directions for the realization of the film,
written on a stamped envelope.
JOHN CAGE PERFORMS JAMES JOYCE
1985, Color, 15 minutes. Sound in
English with John Cage
JOHN CAGE NEW RIVER WATERCOLORS
1990, 14 minutes.
A documentary about Cageâs work
as a painter at the Mountain Lake Workshop in Virginia.
âIt doesnât matter who holds the brush.â John Cage
1955, 10 1â2 minutes, color,
sound, 16mm. Music by John Cage.
WORKS OF CALDER
1950, 20 minutes. Sound by John
Cage. Thanks to the Museum of Modern Art.
The tape includes sounds of
mobiles bumping into one another, recorded in Calderâs studio. The soundtrack
was recorded in January 1950. The idea of the music was Cageâs philosophy that
the sounds be the noises and that they be relevant to what one is seeing on the
âRhythmically composed sequences
suggest a parallel between familiar forms and movements in nature and the
movements of Calderâs mobileâ (from John Cage: âA Few Ideas About Music and
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.