C.A.G.E.
HD video projection
20 mins 34 sec
2013

C.A.G.E. is a fictional documentary about ‘Variations on a Plain Index' a 1945 sound work by an unnamed experimental composer. 

C.A.G.E. is a subtle and philosophical story about an artist’s relationship to environment and how component elements of an artwork can represent subjective states of mind.

C.A.G.E. refers to a psychological or physical cage, to the notes C, A, G and E which make up the final noise, the structural experiments of John Cage, Alvin Lucier and Marcel Broodthaers and the names of the mine shafts in Skidoo Mine, Death Valley. 

Shot in Utah, California and Evans’ New York studio the film concentrates on a fictional composer’s fascination with landscape and describes how that becomes both the inspiration and the material for the sound work.

The composer records the wind in an old forest in Capitol Reef National Park and then plays that recording in disused mine shafts in Death Valley using a multi channel recording process. Here the channels are not electronic but physical channels, mines shafts. The noise of the wind is played and then re-recorded in the mines. The resulting sound work is a sonic description of the shape, volume and materiality of the shafts, a representation of the sordid culture and history of the mine and an elegy to the horrific past of the dead forest.

The film follows the sound work through several stages; natural, electrical, mechanical, geological and acoustic. These changes of state are echoed in the levels of the ‘family tree score,’ the system used to make the recordings in the mine. This process involves the pairing up of recordings made in several mines, re-pairing and re-recording them until there is only one recording. 

This single recording is encased in plastic and ‘exhibited’ in an unmanned electrical substation. This sound is a physical distillation of identity, history, landscape, process and technology.