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4\'33\'\' (Cage, John), 1952Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (Cage, John), 1951

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how it is ‹played out.›

Notions of Art

Parallel to debates about the public, artists have been challenging consensual notions about art as well. As Allan Kaprow put it, «The Japanese Gutai, Environments, Happenings, Noveau Realisme, Fluxus, events, noise music, chance poetry, life theater, found actions, bodyworks, earthworks, concept art, information art—the list could go on—confronted publics and arts professionals with strange occurrences bearing little resemblance to the known arts.» [12] From Umberto Eco’s theories of the open work [13] to Joseph Beuys’ influential formulation of social sculpture as «an art that ‹releases energy in people, leading them to a general discussion of actual problems› and which ‹would mean the cultivation of relations between men, almost an act of life›,» [14] there has been over half a century of practice and theory expanding art into the everyday realms of public life.

From the Open Work to the Open Platform

In «The Open Work,» Umberto Eco writes, «how


often have new creative modes changed the meaning of form, people’s expectations, and the very way in which humans perceive reality?» The poetics of the open work is an expression of such a historical possibility.» [15] A work such as John Cage’s «4’33''» is a classic example of an open work that changed the meaning of form by presenting silence as a composition. Cage’s «Imaginary Landscape No. 4» extends the compositional elements beyond the ambient by introducing the public sphere of radio transmissions into the concert hall.

In both cases, Cage is relying on the audience to interpret what in information theory would be called noise as signal – as intentional. [16] And by using this ‹noise› as his compositional elements, Cage forces the eternal dialog between artistic form and public reception further and further beyond the notion that the work is open to interpretation toward the notion of the listener as cocreator of the open work.

With much new media work, this essentially virtual relationship between a work and its audience becomes concretized. The open work becomes an open platform. [17] For example, for George Legrady’s

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