An Interview with the Univeristy of Technology

I was recently interviewed by Sydney's University of Technology about my work as a teacher, producer and savagely verbose left-wing nutter.

HERE'S a link to the resulting (long!) feature piece.

“My time at UTS as a communications student was an extremely positive one. It showed me that arts practice does not exist in a void, and neither do issues of economic or cultural policy. It behooves us as citizens of the world to remain expansive and engaged in our ‘vocation’, rather than reductive and careerist-driven. “I feel like my time at UTS pushed me to move beyond being merely ‘academically adequate’ or ‘technically competent’. I had some incredible lecturers who simply refused to allow me to acquiesce into indifference about my ‘practice’.”

“My time at UTS as a communications student was an extremely positive one. It showed me that arts practice does not exist in a void, and neither do issues of economic or cultural policy. It behooves us as citizens of the world to remain expansive and engaged in our ‘vocation’, rather than reductive and careerist-driven. “I feel like my time at UTS pushed me to move beyond being merely ‘academically adequate’ or ‘technically competent’. I had some incredible lecturers who simply refused to allow me to acquiesce into indifference about my ‘practice’.”

John Cage

It feels fitting to begin my feeble attempt at blogging with John Cage - although knowing where to even 'begin' speaking about his work leaves me dumbfounded. Which perhaps, is a convenient irony of the fact that Cage was popularized due to his work, 4'33

His 'work' (if one can even reduce his spirit to this) remains an indelible an influence on my own production, teaching and practice. This video interview was a springboard to so much for me, and perhaps might provide a little psychic resonance if you're not familiar with the guy. Cage's quest to democratise the 'non musical', the mundane, the supposedly 'random' in the audio-universe are notions which may have seen genuinely quaint at in the 50s, but have re-engineered collective hearing in a way which few can lay claim to (and Cage himself would probably laugh loudly at were he still alive)...

This Cagian mandate to 'legitimise' (if I can employ this term casually) the sound of the everyday, the overlooked, the mundane remains profoundly resonant to me. In many ways it's the antithesis to late-stage capitalism's insistence on reducing sound to novelty, and music to tokens of trade. What if, perhaps, there was 'nothing' really to acquire, which we didn't already possess? What if, perhaps, we might just be served by listening in a different way to the thrum of even those things about us which we might have been trained to hear as the 'other', the undesirable, the 'unclean'.

Oh, whilst you're here, dig on this. And then turn off the computer. And just listen.

“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.”
John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings

For further reading, I highly recommend the most excellent "Where The Heart Beats" as an accessible primer for all things Cagian.