Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Edible Cage

Wild Edible Drawing # 6
Mulberry, burdock, hibiscus stems, barley,
hijiki, and clover, 1990, 17 x 12"

John Cage (1912-1992) made a few series of “Edible Drawings” toward the end of his life. They are handmade paper created from specific groups of vegetation—foods on his macrobiotic diet, Chinatown herbs, plants from a local forest. It appealed to Cage that the paper could, theoretically, be recycled as food.

Art critic, Francine Koslow Miller shares this anecdote:
Michael Silver, who was at the time the head chef at the Gardner Museum Cafe as well as a practicing photographer, purchased one of Cage's Edible drawings and kept it framed next to his menu at the Gardner Cafe. When the Cafe was taken over by an outside company, Silver celebrated his departure by 'cooking' his Cage drawing. He boiled the paper and turned it into soup, and served it to his friends at the Gardner. I love that he truly understood Cage's holistic view of drawing.
I’m not quite sure whether Cage is to be considered a “generative technology,” or simply hyper-interactive. For however much work across all media Cage himself is directly responsible, there is no way to even begin calculating the output he has spawned by way of collaboration, homage, inspiration, and association.

An Autobiographical Statement delivered by Cage in 1990, two years before his death, concludes with, “There is no end to life.” The plan is for the site to become a rich multimedia repository, linking to text, images, video, animation, etc. and “infinitely expand.”

In celebration of the composer/artist/writer’s centennial (today, Sept. 5), The John Cage Trust has issued the Prepared Piano App. With it, you can play and record sampled sounds that were recreated with the actual bits of hardware Cage used to alter a piano for his Sonatas and Interludes (1946-48). Sort of an open-source Cage.

And on it goes …

Wild Edible Drawing # 8
Milkweed, cattail, saffron, pokeweed,
and hijiki, 1990, 17 x 12"

Edible Drawing #3

Kale, turnip, herbs and mushrooms,

1990, 9 x 11-1/2″

John Cage's "Edible Drawing"
cooked and eaten - August 31, 1995
in the Gardner Museum's cafe 
1995, Chef Michael Silver

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