John Cage, United States
Imaginary Landscapes, 1939
Electronic music and performance
Selected by: Jon Ippolito
Cage is the most under-recognized pioneer in electronic and variable media of the 20th century. As an artist and teacher he had a critical impact on the development of electronic music and performance; as a thinker he anticipated a wide range of new media innovations, from deejay culture to artificial life to “collider” Internet art to open source programming. Many of the techniques he pioneered, such as chance, recombination, and indeterminacy, are reflected in his scores for the Imaginary Landscapes created between 1939 and 1952. A simple list of the instrumentation gives a glimpse into the fertile imagination of this prophetic artist:

Imaginary Landscape No. 1, 1939, two variable-speed phono-turntables, frequency recordings, muted piano, and cymbal

Imaginary Landscape No. 2 [March No. 1], 1942, percussion quintet

Imaginary Landscape No. 3, 1942, percussion sextet

Imaginary Landscape No. 4 [March No. 2], 1951, twelve radios
other artworks: Birdcage
John Cage