Letters to John Cage Author(s): Robert Morris and Bob Morris Source: October, Vol. 81 (Summer, 1997), pp.
70-79 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/779019 . Accessed: 23/03/2011 00:41
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Summer 1997. 24-26. Reference most likely to Morris's "Wind Ensemble.1962-1964 (Durham. While Sally Banes reports that Morris and Forti moved to New York in 1959. Morris is probably referring to having read "The Legacy ofJackson Pollock. however.
OCTOBER 81. p. 8  DearJohn Cage. p. are currently locatedat theJohn Cage Archive at the Northwestern to UniversityMusic Library. "Interview for the Archives of American Art" (March 10. Unfortunately. New York. and Paul Cummings and Robert Morris. 1968). date neitherMorris'sfirst letter-which Cage evidentlyreturnedto him along with his reply-nor Cage'shalf of the Morriss archives. 1961. ." which appeared in Art News 57. has found in eithertheJohn CageArchiveor in Robert correspondence been -Branden W. Ltd. copy located in the Robert Morris Archive. 1994). he spent the spring of 1960 in New York. Democracy's Body. 11. Kaprow I know of by having read an article by him-very interested to know more concretely of what he speaks and hope to contact him this winter. According to Morris. Although Morris had been living in San Francisco. 23. Guggenheim Museum. 90.Evanston. Guggenheim Museum. See Kimberly Paice. Young. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All ellipses are Morris's. this is contradicted both by Paice and by Morris. "Catalogue. he was back in San Francisco. During August. See Banes. it was Cage who had previously introduced La Monte Young to Ann Halprin.. 2. ? 1997 OctoberMagazine.C. according to letters located in the John Cage Archive. 1996). no.
. yes. Democracy's Body:Judson Dance Theater.Letters toJohn Cage
Thefollowing letters. 6 (October 1958). October 9. 55-57. 4.p.1 While I'm here in the West perhaps I can see L." See letter of February 27.written by RobertMorris toJohn Cage over a period of threeyears beginning in 1960. 12).2 Glad to have your reaction to the Ensemble3 . Young would attend Halprin's summer workshop with Morris in the summer of 1960 (Banes. to whom he was married at the time. 3. pp. Thanks for the names of people who might be interested.: Duke University Press. Just received your letter. it is "idea". p.Joseph Aug. Illinois. N. While Morris recalls having met La Monte Young in California prior to corresponding with Cage." in Robert Morris: The Mind/Body Problem (New York: Solomon R.4Probably a
1. 1993). pp. having returned to participate in Ann Halprin's summer dance workshop along with Simone Forti. 70-79. he did not get in touch with Kaprow at that time (conversation with artist.
By 1960. which I want to do. 8. It was nice to meet you the other day at the loft concert.Y. etc. Minimalism. see the introduction. 23). he found there to be too little relation between the process of painting and the resultant.9 The second movement is left as is.6 But I certainly feel the need of a situation where people are working in order to get myself going and maybe I'll be able to find it through some of the people you mention.. 81).8 You expressed an interest in the machines I have made and I wanted to tell you a little about what I have done in the past few months. water.and the 1960s [New York:Harper and Row. p. First of all I changed somewhat the Wind Ensemble. 1989]. in which the sound track consisted of "a tape of construction workers drilling with jackhammers" (Maurice Berger. William Duckworth and Richard Fleming. In February 1961. Marian Zazeela. Labyrinths:RobertMorris.vol. 56. the temperature of the theater begins to rise and reaches its maximum of 85-90 degrees in this movement. 1961 DearJohn. Henry Flynt had given a pair of performances there. 6. "La Monte Young in New York. Pa. The Mind/Body Problem. I wanted a death of process here . Please keep the letter as I don't need it. See the list of concerts in Henry Flynt. However. small explosions. even their non-continuities I wish to remove from my expression. 27. 1960-62. In the first movement I have eliminated the smells and reduced the banging pile-driver sound to one beat per 2 seconds and the volume to a not especially loud one. the first of which was attended by John Cage." in Sound and Light: La Monte Young.7
[signed] Bob Morris
Feb. In his paintings of the 1950s. 58. Hope to be able to see you sometime
this winter in N.Letters toJohn Cage
result of my past problems in dealing. 90). Morris would use a similar idea in his dance Siteof 1964. 1996). finding his painting "to be really not possible" (Cummings and Morris. I need some way of giving these things existence and at the same time removing the "me" which would make them occur too much in terms of habits-their continuities. mirrors. finished canvas..
.: Bucknell University Press. I don't think the work goes very far toward changing the Focus from expressing to watching. However. 9. The third movement is changed completely: it will consist of a duration
5. pp. Morris is likely referring to one of the concerts organized by La Monte Young at Yoko Ono's loft. Morris had investigated the gestural process of Jackson Pollock's work. a kind of duration of idea only. For a brief discussion. Morris had given up on painting. "Continuities" and "non-continuities" are both distinctly Cagean terms. 7. BucknellReview. I am now in the process of working on an event with elements of smoke.5 Yes. which I hope can be distributed and given its dynamics by mathematics.ed. p. compressed air. thinking with effort-process and result-object. Robert Morris would move to New York permanently early in the fall of 1960 (Paice."p. "Interview. 40 (Lewisburg.
Now the changing of the 3rd movement is not conceived by me as "nothing happening" but rather the change was motivated by my increasing concern to achieve an allegorical function in my work. 1963). although going toward it is like successive divisions of a line-for the arrival one must go outside the process. Blam!: TheExplosionof Pop. to beat time (unintended pun). I am able to assign both a negative and positive value to this approach.
Game Switch. very to achieve an absolute or final statement. of course. 1958-1964 [New York:Whitney Museum of American Art. Reprinted in An Anthology. a kind of "nothing" image is very important to me and I have even said that I want to arrive at zero. In fact. La Monte Young (New York:Fluxus Editions. Actually. This is.72
of no sound or light and the windows should be opened and the heat off. In its new form. Minimalism.l10 In your letter of July sent in response to my sending you the first draft of the Ensemble you said I left no room for nothing to happen. 101). Morris's statement echoes Cage's famous pronouncement that there is no such thing as an absolute silence. Cf. 1984].
. I can not conceive of nothing happeningll-I'm not trying to make a logical statement. ed. the first line of Morris's "BlankForm" essay of 1960-61 which was to have been published in An Anthology:"From the subjective point of view there is no such thing as nothing" (reprinted in Barbara Haskell.and Performance. to put a stop to Protestant-wanting process. in which the lights are turned off for the duration of the piece and no intentional actions are performed. p. You mentioned in your
10. Then there is the dislike of the personality which needs to go on making art-perhaps by a kind of attenuation one will finally lose the habit. On the one hand it reflects the desire to get outside by making logical steps (doing next to nothing so that nothing will be a real "next"). On the positive side there is my feeling about perception itself. this movement recalls La Monte Young's Composition1960 #4. 1961. 11. For the time being I am involved in a kind of reducing process of attempting to find images that are closer and closer to the limit.
The Performer Switch. travel to another city for the second.
In this. When handle is pulled it turns on motor in box which pushes out very slowly a bulge in the shape of a breast against the rubber membrane. as if to say. 13 A wooden box about 2' square. p. 1968). day. year. sometimes moving and changing. Essays on theBlurring of Art and Life [Berkeley: University of California Press. The bulge extends about an inch and recedes and disappears. It is unlikely. For Cage would come to condemn the giving of directions to the audience of a Happening. p. I dislike it from beginning to end. Morris approaches certain ideas espoused by Allan Kaprow. . Better still. But before I do I want to add about the Wind Ensemble-it dreary to make a concert of it. third city for the third. Hanging below is a rubber handle resembling a penis. The Theatreof Mixed-Means(New York:Dial Press. The cycle takes exactly one minute. just the switch and box) with the following directions on the inside of the lid: "To begin turn on-continue doing what you are don't-do else. 1993]. I feel that statements are not exclusive all of what does happen is in everybody's mind-the of one another. so now really work at it. See Richard Kostelanetz. 8" deep.. that Cage would have approved of Morris's intended modification. 62)." off-after 2. I feel that by reducing the stimulus to next to nothing (some of us really are trying to say nothing in an elegant manner) one turns the focus on the individual. Over the front of the box is stretched a tight membrane of thin rubber. for example. 13. Directions: "Pull gently about an inch and hold for exactly one minute". Same construction as above. but I intended to describe what I have done and plan to strikes me as very do.who proposed. but with no directions. hour. in Allan Kaprow. Clock. An electrical switch fitted into a 3" x 5" wooden card file box (no wires. that "The Happening should be dispersed over several widely spaced.Letters toJohn Cage
letter of July that "most of what happens never was in anybody's mind". This piece was later titled Footnote theBride. posthumously.
3." I cannot deny in this a "percentage of malice" toward expression. 12. Later switch may be turned doing-or something a second. to
. I guess it is more a matter of focus. the art situation. mounted on wall. however. "whatever you got in the past you brought along anyway. The Game Switch.. 56. The only way I might be pleased with having it performed would be to have the first movement in one theatre. and to another theatre for the 3rd. then everyone would have to get up and travel across town to another theater for the second movement.12 Objects made: 1. locales" ("The Happenings Are Dead: Long Live the Happenings!" . The switch has two "on" positions. or that it underlines solipsism.
e. and he wouldn't listen to me. It pushes out about an inch when the door is completely raised. Opening the plus side exposes a plane of gray rubber. Labyrinths. continuing to lift the door activates a rod which pushes against the rubber from behind like a finger.
The Plus and Minus Box.14
5.. Cage did go to Morris's studio to see this piece. Io~~~~~~ :Its The a. He just sat there" (quoted in Berger. 31).~~Right: Box with the Sound of Own Making. drawing and/or poem and/or musical score and performance. i. It has two doors in front which lift. An oak box about 1' x 2' x 5" mounted on wall.
14. When read aloud one substitutes the word "talk" for "words"...0: ~~
4. The left side or minus side is a reverse image of the right-a depression occurs in the rubber plane when the door is lifted. staying to listen to the entire three-and-a-half hour tape.
Drawings. On a page of dark paper the words "words words words" are written. writings. Frugal Poem. the left marked "+" and the right "-". The Box With the Sound of its Making Inside-told you about this. filling the entire page. He sat and listened to it for three hours and that was really impressive to me. 1. 1961.
. p.Left:Footnote to the Bride. A tape was made of the scratching of the pencil as it was written-it is intended to be several superimposed images. 1961. "When [Cage] came I turned it on .
Squeeze out equal amounts of all of one's colors onto the palette. one yard c. mix thoroughly. Dictate them to friends. 4. thin to a liquid and cover the entire canvas as evenly as possible. 15 On a dark gray sheet of paper 18" x 24" Duchamp's "Litanies of the Chariot" ("Slow life. 52 F. 3. 45" x 72" x 37" 2. Vicious circle. 17 mph.
3. Sculptures A.Letters toJohn Cage
yi:! 2. The time is recorded at the bottom.
15. etc") are written and repeated enough times to fill the page-it amounts to a two and one half hour graphic recitation.
This piece was later titled Litanies. 1 foot b.. Methods for Painting: A.. . Drawing or unilluminated manuscript. NNE 3o 10' 25" a.. 85 lbs. Indeterminate 1. one mile. 5. Onanism.
Radich. photographs of some of these are enclosed. Leaning. [signed] Bob Morris
April 12. 1962 DearJohn. One consists of a set of four cabinets: Standing. Directive 1. Bellamy of Green and Karp of Castelli came immediately after seeing the photos and looked at the work-but I have not been offered a showing.
. This piece is similar to a piece of 1961 that Morris submitted (and later withdrew) for publication in La Monte Young's An Anthology: Make an object to be lost.
Plans for sculpture: I won't describe these in detail." 1961 17. They are to be placed next to each other. If you are in town one of these days and have the time perhaps you might like to see some of the objects-if so please call before 6pm or after 10:30 pm. 5. Piece #1. Put a piece of meat in a metal box and weld it shut. Blam!. TR 7-5934. (Reprinted in Barbara Haskell.17 I want to continue doing more of such things. Since then I have done new things. cycle-24 up and 24 down.) These photographs have not been found in the John Cage Archive.16 2. 101. there fitted is just enough room inside for one to assume the stated positions-baffles inside Leaning and Sitting so that one must conform to these positions when the door is closed. (for LaMonte Young) Make a box. all expressed interest. Lying. Castelli.76
B. Most of the sculpture I am now working on is large and I do not think that it would be a commercial success in any gallery and I am getting
16. I have contacted a few galleries. Sitting.p. Put something inside that makes a noise and give it to a friend with the instructions: "To be deposited in the street with a toss. It is to be motorized and geared in such a way that it has a 48hr. and leave it in a field. even one that will contain something. 1961 To be looked at in a state of shock: nearly anything in a state of shock. Another work is to be a pillar 2' x 8' which telescopes out two more feet. I believe it has been almost a year since I talked with you-when you came to my place when I was on Amsterdam and I showed you some of my work. Green.
I am also asking Ad Reinhardt and the critic E. Castelli come over to see my things. 1963. [signed] Bob Morris Bob Morris 78 East 3rd St. I would appreciate your sending along her address if you have it. I am applying for a Tiffany Foundation Grant that would pay $2000 and would like to ask you to write me a sponsoring letter. C. Thank you for considering this and hope to hear from you soon.
. If you care to keep the photos you are welcome to them. October 9. 1996). Even though I do not have plans for smaller objects I would like to keep in touch with her and send her photos of the things I am now doing. N.18 I appreciated very much your efforts in my behalf in having Mrs. 3
18.C. Goossen to write me a letter.
Morris would not receive this grant (conversation with artist.
to the point where I need more money and more time to continue the work. However.Y.Card File. she expressed an interest at that time mainly in the smaller objects since they would be more likely to sell.
This piece by Morris is akin to Jasper Johns's inclusion of the silhouette of Marcel Duchamp in Accordingto What(1964).19However. I hope you will go see these things. and if you have time to carefully look at the
19. But I hope (intend) to come up to Stony Point20 either the weekend of the 19th or that of the 26th of this month-actually I suppose I should consult the Farmer's Almanac. I will call you the Wednesday or Thursday before the weekend I plan to come up to see if you will be there.. I now have two things. According to Morris. October 9. the resultant piece consisting of a sculpture of a length roughly equal toJohns's height.. 1996)..9-.'.rb~. it was never exhibited and was eventually destroyed (conversation with artist. 20. he did complete a similar project in 1963 by using the shadow of Jasper Johns.
Robert Morris in costumefor War. forming a somewhat distorted outline of a figure that lay on the floor. It was Morris's intention to make a sculpture by casting John Cage's shadow in concrete. And if you do. Since the summer of 1954. Although Morris never did come to undertake this piece.
1/12/63 DearJohn. although the piece was completed.
... I have noticed that the weekends seem gray or else I'm not able to get away and think. New York. I have not forgotten about the shadow. CARD FILE (which you have not seen) and COLUMN (which you have perhaps seen in a photograph) at the Green Gallery.. "oh... John Cage had lived in the Gatehill Cooperative Community in Stony Point. Morris cast Johns's shadow in half-inch gray cement.i------. well it will probably be gray Sunday"...
I have mentioned to the head of the Art Department that I would like very much to have you give a lecture at the Bronx campus. but work and carefully record the time of these observations-I the nature of the work is such that all additions are welcome but I want to know the time that such and such an addition is conceived since this is important information which must be entered into the cards of the CARD FILE. a useful substitute. Hope you will manage to see this as well as the Green show. here in NYC. I am anxious to see Merce's work-it has been so many years since I've seen him dance that now. P. I am now teaching at Hunter College. will be welcome indeed. NYC 13. a necessary replacement of an activity not easily discarded.
CARD FILE I hope you will note any mistakes or suggestions for additions to this don't say study it. Very best regards. and in fact want very much to get started on this but I have not been able to get away. I almost forgot to mention that on January 30th I and another sculptor friend21 will perform a dance at the Judson entitled WAR-I think of this dance as a kind of moralistic act. but if you would be interested in this and could let me know what funds would be necessary I would approach the department again-I would very much like to have you give a lecture (maybe you would prefer a concert?) sometime this spring-I would like to try to make it possible if you are interested.
. [signed] Bob Morris 277 Church St.S. This was just a note to say hello and that I still intend to come up and cast your shadow. When I mentioned this plan I did not know of course how much money you would need to come up and give a lecture.