In 1961 John Cage published his seminal book of essays, SILENCE: LECTURES AND WRITINGS. In that collection of essays, Cage expounds his theoretical framework and compositional style, and builds upon 4′33″. 4′33″—frequently disparaged as a farce played upon a devoted audience—is a composition which, focusses the musical potential of the ambient sounds of performance halls and shuffling audiences. While the audience is visually captivated by the (non)movements of the pianist, the auditory experience—the performance itself—takes place with the creaking of chairs, the clicking of HVAC systems, the coughing and jittering of uncomfortable audience members; 4′33″ is as much about the structures of performativity as it is about critical and close listening; the allowing of small ambient noises to be considered with as much import as musical notes on an orchestral score.
With his edition of SILENCE: LECTURES AND WRITINGS, Derek Beaulieu has created a visual response to Cage’s SILENCE, or more accurately, to a poorly-scanned PDF version found online found on monoskop.org (which coincidently also hosts a PDF edition of his a, A Novel). On each page Beaulieu has deleted all the text except the punctuation marks—which visually represents breath, pauses and breaks—and the grime and digital “noise” on the poorly-scanned page, the creaking digital performance space, of Cage’s lectures.
SILENCE is published in a limited edition which mimics the size and shape of Cage’s Wesleyan UP edition, with the addition of a critical, explanatory afterword by noted scholar Peter Jaeger, grounding the edition in ambient sound, erasure, Buddhism, and conceptual writing.
Digitally printed in an edition of 200 copies, 304 pages, size 170x200 mm, with a full colour matte laminated cover.
Officially launched at Small Publishers' Fair 2023 in London, UK.
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