Utopianism: From Cage to Acoustic Ecology


Session Title:

  • Work

Presentation Title:

  • Utopianism: From Cage to Acoustic Ecology



  • ln January 1992, seven months before his death, John Cage presented his lecture ‘Overpopulation & Art’ at the Center for Humanities, Stanford University. Cage relates various ideas about social change; the role of art (or artlessness), globalisation, education, and environmental concerns. Cage’s position – social /anarchistic / libertarian – is that social revolution must occur at a grass-roots level: that change is bought about through positive individualism not government dictates; an (electronic) democratisation of knowledge; that art, or more specifically creative mind, is part of this gradual revolution – a utopian transformation.

    Gregg Wagstaff will be reading John Cage’s ‘Overpopulation & Art’ with a simultaneous performance of Cages Four 6 composed in the same year. This will be followed by a paper presentation discussing Cages text and a broader socio-environmental artistic discourse in the light of an Ecological paradigm. In particular, the relevance of Social Ecology (Murray Bookchin) and the emerging discipline of Acoustic Ecology (the study of the effects of soundscape on the physical responses or behavioral characteristics of species living within it).