4 FEET AND 33 INCHES
John Cage has referred to his famed 1952 composition 4’33” as a work that could be pronounced either ‘four minutes, thirty-three seconds’ or ‘four feet, thirty-three inches’. In this performance I attempt to pronounce 4’33” both ways (spatial and temporal) simultaneously. Spatially, I saw an 8 foot long 4×4 log into one 4 feet and 33 inches long (i.e. from 96” to 81”). Temporally, once I finish sawing the first end the start of the count marking 4 minutes and 33 seconds begins. When the time set by the composition has ended the sawing of the other end begins. Lasting 12’47”, the performance therefore takes longer than 4’33” since the sawing time stands at either end of that time frame. The three movements of Cage’s composition (at 0’33”, 2’40”, and 1’20”) are noted at the corresponding times and lengths by nicks of the saw onto the wood.
First performed at the Sala Rossa in Montreal as part of the Suoni per il Popolo festival on June 25, 2009. The log, the saw and the video are from this performance. Towards the end of the performance you will notice my impromptu attempts to bypass my poor sawing skills and the fact that I had the wrong-sized saw. Given that I gave up once the saw got stuck, the end cut left unfinished, one could say that the piece is ongoing.
Christof Migone, artist, writer, curator. He currently lives in Toronto and is a lecturer at the University of Toronto Mississauga and the Director/Curator of the Blackwood Gallery.