Variations V – Cage took the pulse

Variations V (1965) took the pulse.  Conceptually, collaboratively, and technically it established a standard and continues to provide a touchstone in art & technology and multimedia performance.

Cage removed the individual ego from the traditional hierarchical structure of composition and established a process through physicality.  The intense group dynamic of the piece is focused in the dancer as the medium, in the sense of one who stores, transmits, channels or functions as a tool used to store and deliver information or data. The pure instinctual physicality of dance becomes the compositional tool for the piece, and the dancer also becomes the conduit;  a trigger of circuitry and a human antenna able to uncover the signals in the space and performance.  Concurrently, the audio visual artists are constantly adjusting and reacting, in feedback to their own exhaustive preparation.

Variations V is exceptionally demanding, in ways particular to Cage.  As a composer, he was willing to be humble, while managing to maintain a clear vision of an outcome for the work as a whole.  Cage understood that it was not possible for one person to direct or “produce” the work;  as such our Variations rests on a community of artists whose practices are influenced by the work of John Cage.

We are presenting Variations V  out of respect for the strong and vibrant community of experimental new media artists here in Chicago, and as a contribution to and reflection of that community.



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