365 X 433

on january 1 of 2011 i began a year-long project, performing john cage’s 4’33” every day. i completed the project on december 31, 2011. i also kept a diary of each performance, as well as notes about the piece and my conversation with cage’s “silent piece”.

my initial interest was simply to listen for four and a half minutes once a day, regardless of where i might be. it began with the idea of listening as a daily practice, as well as the idea of writing as a daily practice.

all of the performances were private, meaning that even when i performed 4’33” in a crowded bar or in a gallery at moma, i was the only one in the space who was aware of the performance.

after completing the project, i began to think about the diary as a work – as the entries move from descriptions, lists, visual poetry, verse, essays, scores, etc.

in early 2012, i showed some of the texts to toby kamps, who was curating a show at the menil collection, related to cage and silence, and our conversation veered towards the diary. i worked with addrienne wong on the design of the finished piece – the diary in 3 volumes, each covering four months of performances, the whole around 400 pages.

the books will be exhibited in july at the menil collection, and at the berkeley art museum, when the show travels in january of 2013. the books are exhibited so that people can handle them and flip back and forth between time.

a few excerpts:

january 1, 4:33 p.m.,

on new years eve i fall asleep around 2 a.m. forgetting my plan to set the alarm clock for the first 4:33 of the new year.

i wake naturally around 6 a.m. and try to perform 4’33” in darkness beneath the bed covers. with eyes closed i fall asleep in the midst of counting the first 30 seconds.

at 7:45 a.m. i wake again, this time to the residue of a dream image:
a small museum wall label is hanging next to a window that looks out at a concrete wall. the label, which seems temporary, says “this situation held a score by marriane brandt that has blown away”. i look out the small window and see a piece of paper floating in the wind. the dream is silent.

later in the day i perform 4’33” at 4:33 p.m. in my studio, sitting on a swivel chair with the door to the outside open halfway. for each movement, i shift the position of my chair in relation to the open door.

february 6, 3:30 p.m.,

this morning i was reading a catalog of robert morris’ work, and he mentioned that in his blind time drawings he notated the absolute time of each drawing (as recorded by a clock), as well as the intuited time of each drawing (via counting silently in his head). the finished works contain notations of both timings – offering a view towards the discrepancy between the two.

up to this point, my own performances of 4’33” have followed intuited time, and it is conceivable that each of my performances have had different lengths… and the more that i think about it, there is a good chance that none of my performances of 4’33” have actually lasted exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds.


october 5, 1:11 p.m., osh parking lot

i am sitting in a car different from the one you are in now. i am listening to the sound of the rain for 4’33”, and i am going to play it back into my mind again and again until the resonant raindrops upon this car reinforce themselves, so that any semblance of other sounds, with perhaps the exception of their rhythm, is destroyed. what i hear, then, is the natural resonant frequencies of raindrops falling upon the roof and body of my car, my listening experience articulated by the coming together of a natural process and a man-made architecture. i regard this listening activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to engage the array of drops that lilt me into a space previously unknown.

(with apologies and reverence for alvin lucier)


october 11, 7:00 p.m.,

visual music:

three stripes or stratums
of sky.

pink slowly to grey.
blue slowly to indigo slowly to black.

faint white spray of cloud,
slate with white rubs, eventually.

all black beckons
a beacon of golden white
amidst the color of a bruise.

october 15, 1:13 a.m.,
kottbusser station, berlin:

so much depends
a harmonica
played in a
stilled train
while drunks are

and yes, i listened
four thirty
before the
train and
man left the

(with apologies and reverence for william carlos williams)


october 20, 2:42 p.m.,

akademie der kunst, benjamin archives, berlin:

in the cloak room behind the reading room at the walter benjamin archives there is a small table, some lockers – and on the wall, a large photo of benjamin’s grave. as i sit down to pack up my papers and put on my jacket, i notice a very soft buzzing, coming from one of the four florescent light bulbs (reminding me of making recordings, several years ago, of various florescent bulbs in one of dan flavin’s installations at chinati). this room is actually quieter than the archive, and as i listen to the tiny drone, while staring at this image of benjamin’s grave, i begin to perform 4’33”…as i enter the drone completely.

the pitch fluctuations and the nasally quality of its buzzing, feels a bit like a recording of pandit pran nath as if heard through a transistor radio. eventually, i begin to hear another tone emanating from another bulb, adding harmonic dust to the original buzz. as my focus deepens, the sounds seem to get louder, and i stare at the image of benjamin’s grave unable to hear these sounds in relation to anything other than a last breath – a weak tonal wheeze of expire. now, everything hums liltingly in the air like a swarm of tiny white butterflies, and although their singing is barely perceptible, the sounds in this room are like perfume – permeating the atmosphere with audible beauty in an otherwise mute and clinical space.


october 25, 7:00 p.m.
walking along westerland strasse, berlin:

through trees,
like an ocean.
then seven
bells felt.


november 1, around midnight,
carsten’s apartment, berlin:

reading walter bejamin’s archive: images, texts, signs in relation to 4’33”…

the 4th word on page 4, and the 33rd word on page 33:
together. kafka.

words that are related to sound or are sound suggestive, on pages 4 and 33:
there is no recording of his voice.
to voice. notes. aura.
chains. note. locomotives.
this train.

also on page 33:
one side, one side, one side, reverse side,
one side, reverse side, one side, one side,
reverse side, one side, reverse side.
(the word “side” in relation to playing LPs. also, remarkably, these words occur in exactly 1/3 of the lines on the page… thus 4’33” meets 33 1/3 – as in rpm. )


november 8, time unrecorded
heathrow airport, london:

take all leftover money out of your pocket, wallet or purse.
count exactly 4 euro and 33 cents (or the equivalent in any currency.)
spend exactly that much money in a shop.
(if there is tax, gathering items for the exact amount will be a challenge).

if you buy something to read, then read it.
if you buy something to eat, then eat it.
if you buy something to chew, then chew it.
if you buy a pen or a pencil, write or draw with it.
if you buy something else, do with it as it expects to be done with.

you can combine activities and/or objects, depending on your purchases.
the first activity must take 30 seconds (or follow 30 pages, or eat 30 bites, etc.).
the second must be in relation to143, and the third to 100.