Even though John Cage's work can be challengingly silent and excruciatingly unstructured, you can't help but love his methodical daring. He was rigorous in his embrace of the chaos of experience. It was a random embrace but always a benevolent one.
Of all artists, Cage would be the most alert and open — the most fun — to work with. He died in 1992, but it's not too late. Slought Foundation is making it possible for anyone to collaborate with Cage via the "How to Get Started" project.
You can become part of the fun by recording a performance at Slought and adding it to their archive. You'll need to pick 10 topics to talk about and prepare yourself to improvise briefly on each. Practice to get a feel for the timing and make an appointment to tape.
Your improvisations will be layered together, building in complexity as the piece moves forward. There is a selection of examples on Slought's website dedicated to the show (howtogetstarted.org/cage.php).
Cage liked to determine some elements of an event and to assign others, often the timing of things, to chance, using the ancient Chinese divination system, the I Ching. He said it was about "asking questions rather than making choices." Self-assigned topics are the core of "How to Get Started," originally improvised in 1989. Cage's randomly selected first topic states it plainly: "Recently ... I had a dream of a new way to make music."
"John Cage: How to Get Started," ongoing, Slought Foundation, 4017 Walnut St., 215-701-4627, slought.org.