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Williams Mix (Cage, John), 1952Random Access Music; Exposition of Music  Electronic Television (Paik, Nam June), 1963

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Two examples will make this clearer: in his first tape composition «Williams Mix,» 1952, Cage uses random processes to compose a graphic score that is then used to edit and assemble eight tape tracks of found and generated sounds. So Cage is abandoning the well-established system of European music notation in order to manipulate sound as a material with the new medium of audiotape, thus producing a musical composition with graphic structures. Paik develops this principle in his 1963 pieces on the theme of «Random Access Music.» He also uses several tape tracks with found sounds, but does not run them through the tape recorder; he sticks them on a substrate instead, next to and on top of each other. Cage works with the software of sound material recorded on the tape, but Paik intervenes in the hardware by detaching the playback head so that visitors can run through the various sound tracks by hand. This individual ‹random access› approach creates a new sound sequence each time, without a beginning or an end. A device intended to reproduce music in a linear fashion, as faithfully as possible to the original, is converted into an instrument for interacting with the musical raw


material. While Cage allows the musicians and the ambient sounds to modify and cocreate his pieces to a substantial extent, Paik builds an interactive installation from which sounds emerge without any compositional guidelines only when the visitors intervene. Comparably, Paik adopts the receptive-analytical strategy of Cage's 1951 composition for radio sets and transfers it to television, but then takes a decisive further step from participatory reception to creative intervention by the public.[16]

Paik's «Participation TV»

Paik's first major exhibition «Exposition of Music—Electronic Television» took place from March 11–20, 1963 in the Wuppertal architect Jährling's private Galerie Parnass. The title alone shows the transition from Paik the musician to Paik the visual artist, achieved by extending the above-mentioned audiotape pieces to television work. The exhibition was distributed all over the building and even spilled over into Mr. Jährling's private quarters. Visitors at the time often took scant notice of the room containing twelve modified TV sets. It is only from today's perspective

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