When I first learned about John Cage’s 4’ 33” in college I found it equally profound and inspiring. The general premise of 4’ 33” is for musicians to stop playing/performing for four minutes and thirty-three seconds in a live environment. When the musicians halt the making of sound, the audience and the environment is the only space left to create “noise.”
For those brief moments, the main focus in the public eye is not on the high performer, but rather on the honest acoustics of the surroundings. The results of the lack of performed sound lead to an auditorium of noise. In the beginning, when Cage performed “4’ 33”, there was a lot of confusion. People were not sure if it was a mistake or if there was something wrong, and many were upset at the lost time. Eventually, as 4’ 33” gained recognition and notoriety, the crowds began to react by filling the space with purposeful noise. In those moments, the crowd had the voice.
It occurred to me recently that the honesty of the environment that John Cage created is comparable to the current state of using web technology to participate in the “noise.” For so many years we’ve been forced to consume the information and opinions that are passed along to us through media outlets. Rarely did people have the opportunity to voice their own opinions. The times, however, have changed. The public is now becoming the leader in broadcasting and “noise making.”