High Line Art, presented by Friends of the High Line, and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) celebrate the John Cage Centennial with a special outdoor presentation of Cage’s film and sound composition One11 and 103 (1992) at the High Line. This screening marks the launch of the new series High Line Channel 14, which presents a program of films, videos, and sound installations in the 14th Street Passage, on the High Line at West 14th Street.
One of the most celebrated and iconoclastic figures of the American musical avant-garde, Cage was instrumental in reshaping post-war Western music. Cage’s radical innovations in composition and theory—the concept of chance and “found” sound as integral compositional devices, the creation of musical structures based on rhythm rather than tonality—were influential in altering traditional concepts of musical interpretation.
One11 and 103 is made up of the film One11, the eleventh work in the Number Pieces series, and the sound composition 103. In this combined piece, abstractions of light travel across and into space created by Cage. Shot entirely in black and white, a camera pans across the blank wall of a Munich television studio, illuminated by soft cloud-like patches of light which drift across the view of the camera. To describe One11 Cage wrote, “One11 is a film without subject. There is light but no persons, no things, no ideas about repetition and variation. It is meaningless activity which is nonetheless communicative, like light itself, escaping our attention as communication because it has no content to restrict its transforming and informing power.”
Of the sound composition 103, Cage wrote, “103 is an orchestral work. It is divided into seventeen parts. The lengths of the seventeen parts are the same for all the strings and the percussion. The woodwinds and the brass follow another plan. Following chance operations, the number of wind instruments changes for each of the seventeen parts.” On the High Line, Cage’s arrangement in light, darkness, and probability will illuminate the High Line’s passageway at West 14th Street and initiate a series of chance encounters with visitors to the park.
Photos by Austin Kennedy.