Cage, Zen & Chance
ReVIEWING Black Mountain College International Conference
Co-hosted by BMCM+AC and UNC Asheville at UNC Asheville’s Reuter Center, North Carolina
Following the structure of a reading group and imagining shared thinking as an artistic form, this performance’s focused was to speculate with the act of reading aloud "The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, On the Transmission of the Mind" and conversing about the influence of this text on John Cage’s oeuvre. Huang Po was a Zen master in the ninth century who, like most Eastern spiritual teachers, taught in allegories that were delivered as sermons, tales, and dialogues portrayed in this book. Cage read a Huang Po’s teachings as a late-night performance at Black Mountain in the summer of 1952.
Participants sat in the round and rolled some dice to determine what text to read. Through group discussion and improvisation, they were invited to express their opinions through an informal process of dialogue and spontaneous reactions. Contributors had varying levels of familiarity with the texts we read. This performance strived to offer a platform that facilitated a space of mutual respect and reciprocal learning, as an experiment in collective thinking and reading.