Defining something as ‘art’ is a matter of perception, thus any sound can constitute music and any music can constitute art.

This was the central idea behind John Cage’s 4′ 33″, a three movement piece composed in 1952 and first performed on the 29th August, 1952 by David Tutor as part of a recital of contemporary piano music in New York. At this performance David Tudor sat down at the piano, closed the keyboard over the keys and then preceded to watch his stopwatch. At the end of the first movement he uncovered and then covered the keys, repeating this process for the second and third movements and correspondingly turned pages of blank sheet music, then at 4 minutes and 33 seconds stood up to receive applause.

Ultimately the piece sought to frame the mundane sounds that the audience made and heard within those 4 minutes and 33 seconds. Creating an unexpected musical piece from the interplay of performer, audience member and environment and overall questioning notions of art and non-art and pushing the notion that art is a matter of perception.

Such a piece recalls the earlier work of other conceptual and experimental artists that sought to represent a similar notion or to play with the boundaries of art, audience and artist such as:

Marcel Duchamp’s – Fountain (1917)


or the more recent work of Marina Abramović – The Artist is Present (2010)

The Artist Is Present


The work of John Cage and other such boundary pushing artists has helped to shape modern; culture, taste and perceptions, exemplified by the statement: what was considered dada in Duchamp’s today, is considered art today.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson