Sound and Sculpture

Reading an essay by composer and artist, John Cage, I came across an interesting connection that he made between experimental music and three-dimensional art forms. One of the things he found most important in his compositions was the use of silence. In his essay Experimental Music he writes, “In this music nothing takes place but sounds: those that are notated and those that are not.  Those that are not notated appear in the written music as silences, opening the doors of the music to the sounds that happen to be in the environment.”

He goes on to mention a similar occurrence in 3-d art :  “This openness exists in the fields of modern sculpture and architecture.  The glass houses of Mies van der Rohe  reflect their environment, presenting to the eye images of clouds, trees, or grass, according to the situation.  And while looking at the constructions in wire of the sculptor Richard Lippold, it is inevitable that one will see other things, and people too, if they happen to be there at the same time, through the network of wires.”

I wasn’t familiar with Richard Lippold,  but when I looked him up, I was fascinated by his work. Looking at his art with Cage’s perspective on space made it even more fascinating to me.  I looked into the work of Mies van der Rohe as well. I have to confess that I never thought about architecture as an art form. It’s not that I didn’t think it was, I just never put much thought into it. Now I’m seeing it as yet another artistic niche to explore.

I’ve been exploring Cage’s idea of silence in music for quite a while and I think the use of space in art would be worth exploring, too. If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts, it would be great to see your comments below.

“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear.” ~ John Cage

Flight ((1962) Richard Lippold

Farnsworth House designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1951)






















Silence: Lectures and Writings by John Cage  Wesleyan University Press

Read more about Cage on my other website HERE.
For an extreme and somewhat humorous example of Cage’s use of silence click HERE.


~ by calliopesvoice on May 17, 2012.

2 Responses to “Sound and Sculpture”

  1. This made me think of Debussy’s quote – “music is the space between the notes.” It’s a great idea to ponder. After all, everything is defined as much by what it isn’t as by what it is, and there is an unsung importance in the craft of taking away. Great post.

    • That’s a great quote by Debussy – one of my favorite composers.
      “Everything is defined as much by what it isn’t as by what it is, and there is an unsung importance in the craft of taking away.” I love that. Well said. 🙂
      I’m very impressed with your writing so your comments mean a lot to me. Thank you.

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