Sunday, December 23, 2012

John Cage used press type to compose his mesostics

M: Writings ’67–‘72, 1973
Author: John Cage
Art director/designer: Raymond M. Grimaila, Middletown, Connecticut
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Interestingly, for the cover design Grimaila chose a type style for the “M”  that seems to be a precursor to Dala Floda.

This is an inside spread (p.122-23) from a chapter known as the Mushroom Book. Cage used press type to compose and produce his mesostics designs.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is hosting a marvelous ongoing exhibition series that features iconic works from the MCA Collection. Currently there’s a “Mixed Media” show titled, MCA DNA: John Cage, which started September 1 and runs to March 3, 2013. MCA online information explains the artifacts on display this way:

Materials demonstrating how to interpret the score of this important work [A Dip in the Lake: Ten Quicksteps, Sixty-two Waltzes, and Fifty-six Marches for Chicago and Vicinity (1978)], which later entered the MCA Collection, are on view along with scores and books drawn from the more than eighty items associated with Cage in the MCA Artists’ Books Collection. 
The exhibition at MCA honors the John Cage Centennial as well as Cage’s long-time relationship with the MCA. One of Cage’s pieces on display is one of his diary series, M: Writings ’67–‘72 that was published in 1973. The book features a collection of Cage’s mesostics that are, as someone described them, “inspired by music, mushrooms, Marcel Duchamp, Merce Cunningham, Marshall McCluhan, etc. and includes ‘Mureau’ composed from the writings of Henry David Thoreau.”

This publication was recognized in AIGA’s Fifty Books of the Year (1974) and is in the AIGA design archives. The Design Archives description states: “This is a miscellany written and printed pretty much according to the I Ching. It seems abstruse, but attuned readers can enjoy Cage’s high humor while soaking in the penetrating insights and anecdotes intended to ‘unstructured bourgeois’.”
Cage, John. M: Writings, ’67-’72. n.p.: Wesleyan University Press, 1973. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 21 Dec. 2012.

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