4 feet and 33 inches (wood)
4 feet and 33 inches (metal)


Other versions: 4 feet and 33 inches (circles) (lines) (ring), 4 feet and 33 inches (ellipse) (ellipsis)

John Cage has referred to his famed 1952 composition 4’33” as a work that could be pronounced either ‘four minutes, thirty-three seconds’ or ‘four feet, thirty-three inches’.

In this performance I attempt to pronounce 4’33” both ways simultaneously by sawing a piece of 4″x4″x8′ cedar into 4 feet and 33 inches where the sawing of one end marks the beginning of the count towards 4 minutes and 33 seconds. Once the time set by the composition has ended the sawing of the other end begins. The three movements within the piece (0’33”, 2’40”, 1’20”) are marked by nicks of the saw in the wood. For the Cage conference in Toronto, the fourth iteration of the piece, a solid piece of metal was used.

The video and still are from the first performance of the piece in Montreal. Towards the end of the performance you will notice my impromptu attempts to bypass my poor sawing skills and the fact that I had the wrong-sized saw.

Recorded by the CBC, producer Scott Tresham, recording engineers Pierre Léger assisted by Pierre Dulong.


Presentation History

2009 Performance at the Sala Rossa in Montreal as part of the Suoni per il Popolo on June 25, 2009.

2009 Performance at the Music Gallery in Toronto, June 28, 2009.

2010 Performance at Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, Scotland, as part of Kill Your Timid Notion, February 21, 2010.

2010 Installation for group exhibition Non-Cochlear Sound at Diapason in Brooklyn, October 1-30. Curated by Seth Kim-Cohen.

2012 Performance at the opening of The Future of Cage: Credo conference at the Robert Gill Theater, University of Toronto, 214 College St., Toronto. Thursday, October 25, 2012.

Reference in John Cage, Conversing with Cage, ed. Richard Kostelanetz, New York: Routledge, 2003, 70.

Photo credits: video stills (1st series), Jerry Cook (first 5 of 2nd series), Bryony McIntyre (last 3 of 2nd series), Alexander Waterman (Cage Conference). Bottom: Seth Kim-Cohen.