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John Cage, Seven Day Diary (Not Knowing), 1978

For his initial, week-long visit to Crown Point Press, Cage conceived a program to learn a new printmaking technique each day. He performed chance operations daily to select a new technique to add to his repertoire; the schedule is listed on the diary’s title page (see detail, below). Insecure about his drawing skills, Cage decided to work blind. Making marks — the quantity determined by chance — with his eyes closed, he effectively translated drawing from an aesthetic endeavor into a numeric formula.


Detail, John Cage, Title page, Seven Day Diary (Not Knowing), 1978, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Kathan Brown, 1996, © John Cage Trust

Banner image: Detail, John Cage, Eninka 29, 1986, burned, smoked, and branded gampi mounted to paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Crown Point Press, 1996, © John Cage Trust

Next: John Cage, Changes and Disappearances, 1979–1982