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John Cage, Fire, 1985

Fire 9 was made by simultaneously running burning newspaper and a damp sheet of paper through a printing press, thereby fixing a unique imprint of fire — an unpredictable, ephemeral, and volatile element. Heated teapots, their temperature and position governed by chance calculations, were then used to brand the paper with rings.


John Cage burning newspapers on the press bed at Crown Point Press, 1992, photograph by Kathan Brown, Courtesy Crown Point Press

Banner image: Detail, John Cage, Fire 9, 1985, burned, smoked, and branded Japanese paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Kathan Brown, 2001, © John Cage Trust

Next: John Cage, The Missing Stone, 1989