John Cage Adores a Vacuum

Donald Spector
Proceedings of Bridges 2013: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2013)
Pages 325–330 Regular Papers


The mathematical description of the vacuum, via quantum field theory, has revealed the vacuum to be a busy, active place, not a blank void, with this activity happening the presence of a Higgs field that permeates space, and with this activity even leading to a measurable force between conductors due to the Casimir-Polder effect. John Cage, however, recognized these features in our sonic environment, and in his work 4’ 33” has provided a concrete, experiential manifestation and representation of the vacuum.