John Cage 1912-1992
Variations V (1965)
The legendary work that premiered at New York's Philharmonic Hall in 1965. This recording was from a german performance taped for television broadcast the next year. I'm listing John Cage as the director, since he's the mastermind here, but if you know Cage, you understand what a misnomer this is. "Collaborative" doesn't get the half of it: you've got Stan VanDerBeek's films, Nam June Paik's video, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma and John Cage on various tape machines rigged up by Robert Moog and Billy Kluver, Merce Cunningham and company doing movement, actual video here is somebody named Arne Arnbom, but don't know if editing was supervised by VanDerBeek, may have been. The video quality is poor, I've tried to preserve what little there was by not compressing too much - sound is great though. Full 50 min, including a 5 min opening commentary in german without subtitles
John Cage made «Variations V» in 1965 for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He and David Tudor settled on two systems for the sound to be affected by movement. For the first, Billy Klüver and his colleagues set up a system of directional photocells aimed at the stage lights, so that the dancers triggered sounds as they cut the light beams with their movements. A second system used a series of antennas. When a dancer came within four feet of an antenna a sound would result. Ten photocells were wired to activate tape-recorders and short-wave radios. Cecil Coker designed a control circuit, which was built by my assistant Witt Wittnebert. Film footage by Stan VanDerBeek and Nam June Paik's manipulated television images were projected on screens behind the dancers.
The score was created by flipping coins to determine each element and consisted of thirty-five «remarks» outlining the structure, components, and methodology. The specific sound score would change at each performance as it was created by radio antennas responding to the dancers' movements.
The photocells were located at the base of the five-foot antennas placed around the stage. Cage, Tudor, and Gordon Mumma operate equipment to modify and determine the final sounds.