If I’m reading John Cage’s first book Silence: Lectures and Writings correctly, this is a quote from “Where are we going? And what are we doing?” a lecture/text/performance piece he first performed at Pratt in 1960:
I was driving out to the country once with Carolyn and Earle Brown. We got to talking about Coomaraswamy’s statement that the traditional function of the artist is to imitate nature in her manner of operation. This led me to the opinion that art changes because science changes–that is, changes in science give artists different understandings of how nature works.
A Phi Beta Kappa ran in the other day and said, “Your view is that art follows science, whereas Blake’s view is that art is ahead of science.”
Right here you have it: Is man in control of nature or is he, as part of it, going along with it? To be perfectly honest with you, let me say that I find nature far more interesting than any of man’s controls of nature.
Cage reprised this piece in 1963 at The Pop Festival in Washington, DC, which was the performance/dance/Happenings portion of “The Popular Image,” the Washington Gallery of Modern Art’s first Pop Art exhibition.
I don’t know what harder to get my head around: that Cage performed in DC; that he was considered a Pop Artist; or that DC had a Gallery of Modern Art.