Mark

18'7489''





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By turning off the transmitter of the main radio station in duration of 18’7489” (4,33x4,33) we open up a gap in the broadcasting space that is filled with other closest frequencies of other radio programs that are in the vicinity of the listener’s radio receiver.

Each listener has a totally different ”performance”, according to its location and signal strength of nearby radio stations within the similar frequency range.
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Originally, the piece was commissioned in 2011 by the 3rd program of Croatian National Radio. The work was never realised as a composition because of the technical/logistical difficulties. Since it is a conceptual piece, I decided to show it in a form of a documentation, as visuals and text.

4.33 x 4.33, or the length multiplied by width, is 18.7489. It is arbitrary and symbolic duration of work which insinuates additional dimension added to Cage’s 4’33”.

By turning the radio frequency of the radio program OFF for 18 minutes and 7.489 seconds, you get a gap in the space that is filled with other closest frequencies of other radio programs that are in the vicinity of the listener’s radio receiver. Each listener has a totally different ”performance”, according to its location and signal strength of nearby radio stations within the similar frequency range. The word ”broadcast” originates from the early radio engineers and literary means ”broad casting”, sowing seeds in large areas. As long as an idea is carried the
program is being emitted.




— 4’33”


In 1948. at Vassar university, State of New York, John Cage presented his work Silent player, a composition of a continuous silence, which was supposed to be broadcast on the radio.

The work was never written, it was conceived to have an average length of a radio performance, between 3 and 4,5 Minutes. Silent player, predated 4’33” for four years and served Cage as a basis for the duration and the basic idea, but unlike 4’33”, which is performed live, Silent player was supposed to be recorded, with the structure that is completely different from 4’33”. The fact that Silent player was never done is explainable by Cage’s heightened interest for the live performances and happenings in the 50’s, and not just reproduction played through the speakers. At the same time, Cage started to be more interested in the spatiality of sound, rather than linearity of time. Cage was not the first composer who composed a work that consists solely of silence.
His predecessors are:

  • Alphonse Allais in 1897 composed ”Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man”, a musical work consisting entirely of rests.

  • Erwin Schulhoff in 1919 composed ”Harmony futurum”, for piano, consisting solely of breaks.

  • Harold Acton in 1928 published a book titled Cornelium, in which a musician plays songs composed almost entirely of silence.

  • Yves Klein in 1949 composed ”The Monotone-Silence Symphony”, orchestral work that lasts forty minutes and consists of two parts of twenty minutes of silence.


— 18’7489”



When we reduce the linear time duration of 4’33” to the numerical value we get 4,33 and by adding to it an additional dimension, the width, we obtain a value of surface of the silence and by it we enter in a new dimension of silence.



4.33 x 4.33, or the length multiplied by width, is 18.7489. It is arbitrary and symbolic duration of work which insinuates additional dimension added to Cage’s 4’33”.



At the same time, the dimension of the surface distribution of the work itself has been added to 4’33”. It is the dimension of expansion of radio waves that spread linearly and the dimension of entering the structure of 4’33”, by eliminating the media of distribution. It is the lack of media that is the complete silence. As long as there is a medium of distribution, a complete silence is impossible due to the noise of the carrier (medium). As long as there is silence, it can be heard, only when the medium disappears then it can no longer be heard. As long as I am listening to the silence, it means that I hear something.

By turning off the carrier, complete silence can be heard and it opens the opportunity to hear other channels that are normally silenced. Cage deals with silence, and I am interested in emptiness and what appears then.

Given the characteristics of the radio and the nature of the distribution of radio frequencies, it leads to uneven distribution of signals, depending on the location of the listener and the strength of the transmitter of the radio stations. By turning the radio frequency of the radio program OFF for 18 minutes and 7.489 seconds, you get a gap in the space that is filled with other closest frequencies of other radio programs that are in the vicinity of the listener’s radio receiver. Each listener has a totally different ”performance”, according to its location and signal strength of nearby radio stations within the similar frequency range.

We get something similar to Cage’s 4’33”, only with much greater range and democratization of ”performance.” All the listeners of the program are becoming part of the execution, performance, and have their own random variation that varies from ”white noise” to the random frequencies that fall into frequency space of their receiver and belong to other radio stations.

In 4’33” Cage deals with silence, or the inability to achieve it, and with redirecting attention from the performer on to the audience. Every performance is completely different, since it depends on the surrounding factors of the performance; the audience, the acoustics of the hall ... Therefore, it is impossible to repeat it. It can exist only as a reproduction, or documentation, but the real work can be experienced only immediately, in real time. That is also the case in 18’7489”, it functions as an ”event” and can not exist as a recording, i.e., it can not be recorded, because no listener has the same sound picture. It can not exist as a soundtrack, but only as a live performance.

The specificity of 18’7489” is the randomness and radicalism of ”performance” by taking over the emptiness as part of ”broadcasting”. This radicality manifests in distribution of an idea without a signal. Broadcasting in quotation marks as restrictive concept that includes transmitting a signal, while in the case of 18’7489” broadcasting refers to distribution of an idea and does not neceserely imply a radio signal.

18’7489 “takes up the space of the void, the space deprived of the presence of the signal and converts it into a broadcast format. No matter if radio program is off, simply because it is part of its program plan, it is still part of its ”broadcast”. The existence of the radio program is not questionable, but moreover highlighted.

Originally the word ”broadcast” originates from the early radio engineers from the region of the Midwestern United States, and literary means ”broad casting”, sowing seeds in large areas. Therefore, the term ”broadcasting” is not as wrong, because it means planting seed of ideas on large areas, and does not refer solely to the media of radio or the carrier signal. So, as long as an idea is carried the program is being emitted.

The work 18’7489” is the seed (idea) and in order to fully come to life, it needs its live performance, the space of its realization.



  1. PDF version of the text is available here.


The work was comissioned by radio program "Picture of Sound", curated by Evelina Turković for the 3rd Program of Croatian National Radio.