Today was a very warm and sunny Saturday during the Easter Weekend and the public's minds were possibly not going to be inspired by the thought of engaging with the taxing activity of a creative writing exercise. This was born out by my first endeavours to invite members of the viewing audience to help me with this experiment. So I took a firm approach and the journey commenced.
The idea today was to draw upon the text in the titles John Cage had given to his different works and then by an instinctive and random decision to choose 3 to 5 words from 2 titles.
These words would then become the basis for a exploring a playful journey with creative writing by using them in any sequence or manner which seemed to suggest itself to the individual. With the addition of pencils being on long canes and the writing to take place from standing, the slightly disconcerting nature of this action gave a extra focus to the action and hopefully would promote a greater freedom in writing.
My first two participants, Ruth and Julia immediately took a different approach by preferring to create visual images rather than text, but once coerced into the activity they had fun and also were drawn into their own dialogue with interpreting the titles chosen which was part of the objective. I was quite moved by the writing which was created by Nick and Stephen, as they each had a piece of prose which had a wonderfully profound depth to it. This is there work which I would like to share with their agreement to a wider public:
Nick's selected words: River Rocks And Smoke
With a violent lurch
The boat was swept downstream
The thick heavy ash filling my mouth
And my cheeks raw with the heat
And rising adrenalin
Stephen's selected words: Wanting Variations Disappearances
Wanting variations in disappearance
We want to go down to the water
Every day we are discussing this
Some days we are describing it so clear that it has become in
Our imaginations. Once there
was an argument about when
we should go but we realised
that is beside the point. We
are going going going going going
An extremely mature young boy called Scott Griffiths, engaged so beautifully with the exhibition, that his comments as well as his consequent contribution were equally insightful. I think John Cage would have been pleased by Scott's comment in relation to his favourite print which he perceived to resemble a drawing by someone who has never drawn before. By this he elaborated that he meant that it wasn't like anything else he'd seen, but seemed fresh and new. I admired his clarity at the age of 8. He then drew in inspiration by this piece which you can see below.
Jeff Newnham was a humourous and playful participant who was fascinated by the fact; "that you never know how you will get from double six to double five", relating to the transition from one point in the game of dominoes to another. and his comment; " It is the gaps in between places which other people will fill in" both related to this but also seemed like a metaphor for understanding the random and uncontrollable aspects of our collective lives.
I would like to thank my last participant who concluded the afternoon's explorations, and was a charming older gentleman called Raj who was drawn to the word River in no 72 New River Watercolours. His was a lovely loose response which combined both text and imagery.
I really appreciated the efforts of all who participated on such a hot afternoon and the variety of creative pieces which were generated by this experiment. Many of those individuals found that from this freedom to take their own path starting with something as simple as a few words, that they found a different level on which to connect with John Cage's work.
They were at times surprised to find themselves stimulated by their own ability to be creative and to also enjoy the process. Such is the power of personal random journeys, and the special way in which the the thinking behind the work of John Cage can open doors to unforeseen ways of stimulating artistic expression in an ever continuing response back and forth between self and the outside world.