Counter-Architectures: ORGAN2/ASLSP, John Cage, and Utopia

Photo of the ORGAN2/ASLSP Halberstadt organ by Ronald Göttel, 2022

On the evening of September 4, 2001, a small crowd milled through the hollowed interior of a heavy stone cathedral to see an organ concert. At midnight, the concert began. The fan motor that powers the organ whirred to life and the organ's bellows creaked and clicked as they pumped air through the machine. No notes sounded that evening. The organ itself did not even have pipes. In the empty shell of the St. Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany, no music save the rhythmic mechanics of the bellows would be heard at all for the next two years.

Some visitors compared the the concert to John Cage's 4'33". Like Cage's famous silent piece, the "music" contained no notes, only the ambient sounds of the perfomance space itself. "Nobody is playing, and yet there is music in the room," wrote one visitor admiringly.1 But unlike 4'33", where the performer sits silently at their instrument for four and and half minutes, the organ concert did involve the operation of the organ itself.

ORGAN2/ASLSP, Halberstadt performance, Sound Change 1, September 5, 2003
ORGAN2/ASLSP, Halberstadt performance, Sound Change 2, July 5, 2004
ORGAN2/ASLSP, Halberstadt performance, Sound Change 3, July 5, 2005

On February 5th, 2003, the first notes of the performance began.2 The first notes—a breathy chord of two G sharps and a B—played continuously for a year, until on until on July 5, 2004, two low E notes were added to the chord. Exactly a year later, the chord changed again, this time removing the low G sharp and B. There have been 16 such impulses since the performance began, with each impulse accompanied by a ceremony and celebration. Each note change leaves behind at least one surviving tone which creates a continuity between disparate impulses. As they become a constant drone, the oscillation of the organ and the intersection of sound frequencies produces a pulse through the chords. Every changing note produces a new oscillation which begins to unravel itself slowly until a new note arrives. At this pace, the organ concert will finish the first movement of John Cage's ORGAN2/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) on the September 9, 2072. There will a 1 month interlude before the beginning of the second movement of the eight which make up the piece. The eight movements are non-sequential, and can be played in any order based on the decision of the performer. The Halberstadt performance of ORGAN2/ASLSP is playing the eight movements sequentially. The estimated end date for all eight movements is the year 2640.3

Extended into this time frame, the Halberstadt performance of ORGAN2/ASLSP not only encompasses the sound of John Cage's composition, but the social, technical, and architectural structures which are meant to enable that sound to continue for centuries. The Halberstadt performance is explicitly oriented around a utopian impulse, where the social and material infrastructures all operate in the cause of an aesthetic experience. The performance shares Cage's own utopian ideals, particularly as they appeared in his writings, but where Cage saw experimentation and iteration as crucial aspects of utopia, the Halberstadt performance crystalizes and suspends a single mode of experimentation within a series of infrastructures which overdetermine it. The Halberstadt performance of ORGAN2/ASLSP crystalizes and overdetermines the experimental possibilities of Cage's composition through the very apparatus meant to sustain the performance. This contradiction of the performance apparatus overdetermining the possibilities of the composition inverts the typical relationship between Cage's compositions and the surrounding apparatus, where the composition operated as an attempt to open up new possibilities within the existing structure, typically through the negation or subversion with those structures. Examining the interlocking infrastructures of the Halberstadt performance reveals the contradictions at the center of the performance and the limitations of this practice of negation.

The Sound

John Cage composed ORGAN2/ASLSP in 1987, adapting the composition from an 1985 piece for piano entitled ASLSP. ORGAN2/ASLSP and ASLSP both rely on a series of eight movements which can be played in any order. While ORGAN2/ASLSP allows any movement to be repeated at any point, ASLSP repeats only one movement while deleting another, leaving the total sections at eight.4 ASLSP, which stands for "As Slow(ly) and Soft(ly) as Possible" and references the final line of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, was commissioned for the University of Maryland International Piano Festival and Competition and the non-sequential, repeating structure of ASLSP was intended to add variety for the judges.5 Neither ORGAN2/ASLSP and ASLSP use dynamic or tempo markings, instead relying on the spatial relationship of the notes to guide the performer.

Cage carefully avoided imposing a temporality on the pieces, once replying to a question about the intended length of ASLSP for piano by saying "If each section took one minute to play, then the piece would last eight minutes".6 When ORGAN2/ASLSP was first performed in 1987 by German organist Gerd Zacher, the whole piece ran a total of twenty-nine minutes.7 With only the instructions "as slow as possible," typical performances ORGAN2/ASLSP range from twenty minutes to an hour, with some longer performances stretching between eight and sixteen hours. The Halberstadt performance is the longest performance of ORGAN2/ASLSP (or any other piece of music, Cage's or otherwise) that has been attempted.

John Cage, ORGAN2/ASLSP, 1987, musical score.

The dozens of possible variations and temporal ambiguity of both ORGAN2/ASLSP and ASLSP are left to the discretion of the performer. How long the pieces are performed, the order the movements, and the repetition (and exclusion) of certain movements each take on extreme significance in an otherwise minimal score. The pieces are impossible to play without reflecting the performer through its duration and arrangement, even while the notes themselves are relatively simple to execute. ORGAN2/ASLSP and ASLSP set aside the skill of the performer and their instrument and instead reveal of the judgment and individuality of the performer in a way that can be both experienced temporally and legible through the arrangement of the movements. ORGAN2/ASLSP and ASLSP serve as a tool through which to render the individual qualities of performer legible through a musical structure rather than mould the performer around a certain performance.

Musically, both ASLSP and ORGAN2/ASLSP can be understood as explorations of the specific tonalities of the sound. Despite the possibilities for the expression of the player, they are ultimately still bounded by the score and the physical limitations of the instrument. In ASLSP, the duration of the piece strains against the piano itself—as the sparse notes are played, the tones slowly begin to fade away into silence. There is no possible rhythm in the notation, only the persistence and disappearance of the subtle tones which make up the notes. As the duration of ASLSP increases, the decaying fade of the individual notes stays roughly consistent, with long silences developing between notes. ASLSP serves as an exploration of this process of decay, highlighting the ways that the interaction between player and instrument produces these lingering tones. In ORGAN2/ASLSP, the organ produces sound as long as the performer holds the notes. Rather than exploring the sound of decay on a piano, ORGAN2/ASLSP draws attention to the tones within and between notes. As the notes become a constant drone, the oscillation of the organ and the intersection of sound frequencies produces a pulse through the chords. Every changing note produces a new oscillation which begins to unravel itself slowly until a new note arrives.

In this sense, ASLSP and ORGAN2/ASLSP draw less attention to the assemblage of notes which compose the piece than to the apparatus producing the sounds and the nature of sound itself. Performer and instrument operate as a single system which produces and sustains the sound and the tonalities within it. Just as a the performer is inextricably entwined with the structure of Cage's compositions, the instrument is inseparable from the nature of the sound. Within this formulation, the composition itself becomes nothing more than an undetected structure. As the silences between notes grows in ASLSP and or the resonances and tonalities between notes oscilate in ORGAN2/ASLSP, the previous notes fade from memory. The current sounds become nearly continuous with the piece as a whole, making the movement between different sounds an abrupt shift in sonic norms rather than a melody.

For Cage, this tendency towards the disappearance of music into a series of sounds was a crucial aspect of his practice. In an interview in 1972, Cage said:

In a paper I had from Fuller just recently, he indicated—as I indicate in the field of music—that the goal—going toward the rainbow, so to speak—is not to have any. That is to say, an architecture which doesn't appear to be an architecture will be a marvelous place to live; and a music which isn't music, and yet satisfies one's musical inclinations, is what I have now: namely, the ambient sounds.8

Cage outline his ethos towards music as a pursuit of its negation. Cage outlines a resonance between music and architecture as structures which are either artificial or limiting—architecture which appears to be architecture becomes uselessly self-referential, whereas music which isn't music opens up a new field of possibilities. Importantly, Cage's theory of structural disappearance is oriented towards a utopian possibility—"a marvelous place to live."

As Branden Joseph argues, this tendency towards an undetected structure epitomizes a crucial aspect of Cage's practice. Joseph draws particular attention to Cage's interest in transparency, arguing that the notion of transparency and glass for Cage represented a means of opening up a closed structure to its surroundings. For Cage, the interpenetration between inside and outside that was enabled through this transparency was the apotheosis of the modernist project aesthetically.9 Joseph cites Cage's admiration for Mies van der Rohe as an expression of this disappearance of architecture. For Cage, Miesian architecture moved towards this invisibility: "If I were thinking of the most delightful piece of architecture that I know of," Cage said in an interview in 1985, "it would not be the Taj Mahal, but the Farnsworth House near Chicago by Mies, which you can look under and over and through. You can almost imagine that it doesn't exist".10 In his own work, Cage saw this openness and the disappearance of music as closely linked to his rejection of harmonic structure and serial repetition, as Joseph argues.11 Instead, Cage's compositional work moved towards a rejection of "music" altogether—"music which isn't music".12

Part of Cage's musical philosophy can be traced back to his brief training as an architect. When in Paris in 1930, Cage repeated stated his fascination with the city's "flamboyant Gothic architecture"—architecture which announces itself as architecture—before working with the modernist architect Ernő Goldfinger. Goldfinger's approach to modernist architecture dealt extensively with what Goldfinger understood as "the sensation of space." In an article published in the Architectural Review in 1941, Goldfinger argued that modern architecture operated as the construction of spatial sensations. "A point that is essential to make clear," Goldfinger wrote, "is that the sensation of space cannot be experienced by simple visual contemplation." Architecture, for Goldfinger, was a spatial order which operated beyond merely the visual. The sensation of space was holistic, operating across mediums and thus providing the richest aesthetic experience: "The sound and vibration in a hall; the physical touch of the walls of a narrow passage; the atmosphere and temperature of a stuffy room; the smell of a damp cellar; all are, in various degrees, components of spatial sensation".13 For Goldfinger, the spatial sensation had less to do with the structure of architecture than the surface-level sensory experience of it. This differentiation is one that appears across Cage's work as well.

In the essay "Happy New Ears!" in A Year from Monday, Cage outlined a theory of musicality as a relationship to sensory experiences:

One of the things we nowadays know is that something that happens (anything) can be experienced by means of technique (electronic) as some other (any other) thing (happening). For instance, people getting in and out of elevators and the elevators moving from one floor to another: this "information" can activate circuits that bring to our ears a concatenation of sounds (music).... (Even if you didn't think it was music, you'd admit that you took it in through your ears, not through your eyes, nor did you feel it with your hands or walk around inside it. Perhaps you did walk around inside it: the architecturality of music is now a technical possibility and a poetic fact).14

By framing musicality as the "concatenation of sounds," Cage offers a theory of music which emphasizes the systems and interactions which produce those sounds. People getting in and out of elevators, for Cage, becomes musical through sound which arises from that interaction between things. Music disappears entirely, leaving only the sounds and interacting systems. Simultaneously, the structure of music and the structure of space both disappear and overlap in Cage's theory of music. The ambient sounds, like Goldfinger had described a few decades earlier, are produced and experienced within a spatial system of interactions.

In "Of Other Spaces," Michel Foucault outlines a theory of heterotopias: spaces which disrupt the typical organizations of social power either through intensifying those power relations or inverting them.15 Building on his notion of disciplinary power as the guiding model for the western production of the subject, Foucault identifies the heterotopia as the disruptions and reconstitutions that enable the production of disciplinary power. Discipline, for Foucault followed a certain set of principles: the segmentation of space, the organization of bodies into those legible segments, and the synchronization and standardization of movements both of groups and of individual bodily motions.16 Crucially, this control over space operated as a "machinery for adding up and capitalizing time".17 For Foucault, if heterotopias are produced through an reconfiguration of social logics, the corollary is an uneven flow of time within the space that Foucault terms "heterochronies".18 Foucault's notion of heterotopias is a useful way of understanding Cage's own approach to political action. For Cage, heterotopias and heterochronies necessarily disrupted the disciplinary society Foucault described. Cage located a utopian possibility in these disruption of space and time.

Cage's musical compositions, then, extend beyond merely the arrangement of sound, but the creation of sonic and spatial systems. In ORGAN2/ASLSP, particularly the Halberstadt performance, the performer, the organ and the architecture which mediates the space around them all become inseparable from the exploration of tones in Cage's composition. The piece draws attention to this system of sound production through the constant meditative droning of the organ. As the sound fills the room, it establishes a kind of temporary counter-architecture, reconfiguring the architecture of the space as a part of the musical performance. In this sense, Cage's work drives towards the utopian disappearance of architecture by enrolling the permanent structure of the building into the fleeting moments of a musical performance.

In Halberstadt, this counter-architecture of music is apparent in the tension and synthesis between the architectural structure of the St. Burchardi Church and the sensory experience of the music within it. In an interview in 2021, Rainer O. Neugebauer, who leads the foundation supporting the Halberstadt performance, described the sonic experience of the piece spatially: "There are places in the church where it feels as if you're standing in an engine room," the former social sciences professor said before imitating the oscillating tone, "woawoawoawoawoa. Then you take two steps to the side and you hear... wooooo".19 Moving through the Halberstadt performance reveals the architectural nature of the interweaving tones. The music of ORGAN2/ASLSP operates as a counter-architecture to the physical structure of the St. Burchardi Church itself. The Halberstadt performance operates as an apparatus composed of a blurring between sound and structure.

Photo of St. Burchardi church, Halberstadt by Wikipedia user "Ymblanter", 2021,

The Building

The floors of the St. Burchardi Church are gravel, with the exception of the well-worn brick of the nave. A timeline and a list of the performances' sponsors begins in the nave and wraps around the whole interior of the church, with each sponsorship marking a year of the 639 in the piece. A modern table covered in literature and pamphlets sits on the right side of the nave; it is the only furniture in the building. The church, consecrated in 1256 and used as part of a monastery complex, sat abandoned before its re-use for ORGAN2/ASLSP. The space is vast and empty of any decorative elements save the wizened oak of six decorative ionic columns, bolted into place in the nave. In each transept sits one part of the organ. On the left are the bellows, powered by an electric fan, while opposite to the right is the organ itself. The small, modern wooden structure that serves as the organ was intended to play only the first chord of ORGAN2/ASLSP in 2003, but has become a nearly permanent aspect of the performance since "various designs for a larger organ could not be realized for financial reasons".20 Beyond the transepts is the choir—the oldest part of the building—completely empty except for a single statue of St. Burchardi.21 The lack of decoration makes the space strikingly architectural—it is the structure of the church which is both visible and most important. The whole building serves the production of sound coming from the small machine in the right transept.

The building is owned and maintained by the John-Cage-Orgel-Stiftung Halberstadt, which operates as the non-profit organization intended to maintain the project through the next several centuries. The non-profit operates through a bifurcated system of a board of directors which oversees day-to-day operation for the project, and the board of trustees which coordinates with the board of directors over large scale decision about the project.22 Neither the board of trustees nor the board of directors can exert full control over the project. For a small organization (three individuals comprise the board of directors), the structure seems oddly paranoid, but the system of checks is intended to create stability and continuity.

Photo of Sponsorships lining the St. Burchardi church, Halberstadt by Wikipedia user "Wikipedia-ce", 2005,

This organizational structure is less a means of preserving the project than mediating between the epochal temporality of the performance and the socio-legal temporality of the fiscal year. Yet, the pressures and influence of the socio-legal temporality have unavoidable impacts on the project itself. The increasingly less temporary organ in the right transept, for example, was initially meant as a stopgap solution until the foundation could install the full organ meant to play the piece to its conclusion.23 The project's sponsors wrap around the interior of the church at a little under eye level, ensuring the project plays a little longer even while adding an unusual interruption to the interior walls of the church. Finances have been a core source of tension in the project. A 2006 New York Times write-up on the piece described organization tension not only around the design and evolution of the organ itself, but of the donation system which now encircles the interior of the building. The project, rather than pursue major donors, instead sold the smaller, more "grassroots" plaques to raise operations funds.24 These decisions have directly impacted the organ and the architecture surrounding it, and thus have a deep impact on the piece as a whole. The relationship between the temporality of ORGAN2/ASLSP and the day-to-day operations of maintaining it are not separate processes, but deeply entwined.

The John-Cage-Orgel-Stiftung Halberstadt is open about the uncertainty of the piece's conclusion. The organization chose the 639 year time frame for ORGAN2/ASLSP as a reference to the Faber organ built in the nearby Halberstadt Cathedral in 1361—the first keyboard organ with twelve tones.25 Drawing on this long history of the organ in Halberstadt, the foundation established the start of the performance as a mirror to this crystallization of modern western music: 639 years between the Faber organ and 2000, 639 years between 2000 and the end of Cage's composition. After a lack of funds caused a year delay, the Halberstadt performance adjusted its end date to 2640.26 "Perhaps the Burchardi Church and the organ will be underwater," Rainer Neugebauer said to an interviewer in 2021, "Climate change has existential relevance to our musical performance".27 Neugebauer sits as the longstanding chairman of the board of trustees, and has been a part of the Halberstadt performance since before it began. Maybe, Neugebauer said in a separate interview to the New York Times Style Magazine earlier that year, Europe will become a desert.28 In both interviews, however, the Halberstadt performance and its end-date centuries in the future is meant to operate as a gesture of utopian possibility. "This," Neugebauer said to New York Times Style Magazine, pointing directly to the organ, "is my idea of hope".29

The Organ

An organ is a machine. It transforms the motion of air passing through bellows into sound at a central point of operation at the keyboard before distributing out that air again. In an acoustic sense, air passes into the organ disorganized before exiting the organ pipe as a vibrationally aligned sound wave.30 The organ is the mechanical organization of these vibrations. Unlike other woodwinds, the organ requires a massive infrastructure to produce this organization: bellows, tubes, pipes, the control board, the keyboard—each operate as a separate infrastructure at play in the assemblage of the instrument. A piano and an organ both have a discrete mechanical system for each note, attached to a standardized twelve-tone keyboard, but unlike a piano, an organ uses this system in addition to a larger infrastructure of air. A piano (as Cage explored in detail in his Prepared Pianos series) can still produce noise even when the mechanism which strikes the strings is interrupted, but an organ without pipes or without airflow cannot produce noise. The organ, with its control of flows and distribution of energy, resembles an industrial machine. The process for powering the air moving through the bellows and the process for directing that air are entirely separate. Where the piano's player provides both the energy and the direction (linked through the striking mechanism of the piano), the organ player is, depending on the machine, completely separated from the movement of air. In the Faber organ in the Halberstadt Cathedral, the bellows were operated by a separate labor-force from the labor operating the keyboard. In the Halberstadt performance of ORGAN2/ASLSP, there is no visible labor at all.

Photo of the ORGAN2/ASLSP Halberstadt organ by Gordon Welters, 2021

In this sense, the organ becomes a technical object with the performer embodying the role of technician, specifying the placement of tones in time. Significantly, where typical performances of ORGAN2/ASLSP require constant human intervention, the organ in the Halberstadt performance operates autonomously most of the time. The organ in the Halberstadt performance is a small wooden frame miniaturization of the Faber organ in the Halberstadt Cathedral. The oversized pipes extend through the frame itself. Rather than a full keyboard, the organ uses a simple series of levers that correspond to each pipe, held open by sand bags. The bellows push air through the pipes of the organ with or without anyone present. Instead, the organ and the surrounding architecture becomes merely a site of maintenance: repairing the organ and the building, or occasionally changing the notes. The production of sound is automated, while the re-productive labor which enables that sound remains. The utopia of the organ, then, lies not in the production of sound, but in the possibility for a social structure like the John-Cage-Orgel-Stiftung Halberstadt to maintain and reproduce the conditions for sound. When Neugebauer gestures to the organ as a symbol of hope, the organ itself is largely disconnected from the actual hope. Rather, the hope lies in the continued reproduction which surrounds and enables the organ. Like a heart monitor, the organ's sonic presence confirms a sign of possibility—that the conditions to produce this sound still are possible.

"In the past," Cage said in a radio interview in 1969, "we have thought that 'utopia' was a lovely dream but impractical, and I think our technology is now making it practical".31 ORGAN2/ASLSP in Halberstadt builds on Cage's philosophy of technology as the operating principle of utopia. The duration of ORGAN2/ASLSP in the Halberstadt performance responds not only to the history of the organ in Halberstadt, but to a general question of permanence: ORGAN2/ASLSP could last as long as an organ, which, when well-maintained, could last nearly forever.32 The organ as a technical object becomes the symbol for a future built around and oriented towards technology. The counter-architecture of ORGAN2/ASLSP which appears in the apparatus of the organ, the building, and the social organization which maintains these structures, are bound together through a technology of autonomous sound production.

In Architecture and Utopia, Manfredo Tafuri examines the utopian impulse of modern architecture, arguing that the ideology of utopia which is embedded into modernist architecture only operates as a means of absorbing the contradictions between bourgeois sensibilities and capitalism.33 For Tafuri, the utopian aims of a new society enabled through architecture without reorganizing the conditions of production which surround that architecture are pure ideology—the use of aesthetics as a political intervention.34 Tafuri draws particular attention to the role of technology in these frameworks of utopia. "Supertechnological" architecture enables a utopianism driven by pure imagination and "collective liberty" in the utopian space.35 Tafuri locates this utopian synthesis of liberty and technology in Buckminster Fuller's social architecture, where the current system accelerates itself towards a homogenous interchangeable spatiality.36 As Branden Joseph points out, Fuller's ideological framework pushed towards a vision of the future in which technology enabled the complete deterritorialization without a re-territorialization, with the intensity of flows operating as the primary logic of utopia.37 This utopian impulse towards deterritorialization and acceleration operates as a negation of what Foucault describes as disciplinary spatiality—territorialization which is restrictive and static rather than rapid flows and movement. Fuller's utopias are premised on the acceleration and intensification of technology and capitalism, embodying the contradictions between ideology and capitalism. Technology becomes the means of reconciling irreconcilable contradictions.

Like Fuller, Cage also saw technology as the means of producing utopia. For Cage, Fuller's homogenous spaces and negation of disciplinary forms of power were less homogenous spatiality than spaces of experimentation. Where Fuller's utopia operated as an architectural solution through technology, Cage's utopias remained counter-architectural; dedicated towards experimentation within and through existing architectures. Cage believed that structure itself "doesn't seem to me to affect anything that happens in it".38 Thus, where Fuller sought to establish a utopia through the proper relay between aesthetic (homogenous disappeared architecture) and structure (acceleration and movement), Cage's utopias are meant to appear in-between and through existing structures. Cage's utopias exist within the temporary counter-architectures of his compositions, which serve as disruptions to larger norms. This difference in scale between Fuller and Cage is a crucial aspect of their ideological differences.

The organ is the means through which the utopian counter-architecture of the St. Burchardi church is established. Through the technical production of sound and the arrangement of labor around it, the organ sounds perpetuates the counter-architecture. The result is cyclical: the organ confirms the existence of a counter-architecture which enables the continued production of sound. Yet, the possibilities of the space crystalize around the organ. The organ becomes the only means by which the Halberstadt performance can create a utopian enclave. Where Cage's pieces typically served as short disruptions of typical flows of time (4'33" in 1952 or Variations III-VIII in 1962-1967), ORGAN2/ASLSP in Halbserstadt creates an alternative logic which is as persistent and dogmatic as the logic of time it disrupts. To establish the organ as a never-ending sound, the social structure which surrounds it pursues a logic of stability which restricts Cage's rapid experimentation.

Instead, the Halberstadt performance establishes its own system of disciplinary power around the organ. The non-profit which mediates between the piece and the outside world necessarily reproduces the conditions it seeks to disrupt. ORGAN2/ASLSP, on this timescale, becomes less of a temporary counter-architecture than its own space and regulatory body. The organ becomes a site of regulation, the St. Burchardi church begins to imitate the physical and legal structure of a museum. This slip into disciplinary structures is not a failure of the performance, but a natural result of attempting to extend the temporary counter-architecture of a musical performance into the temporality of traditional architecture. Even experimental music begins to replicate the structures and practices of the systems it disrupts. The utopian possibility of ORGAN2/ASLSP in Halberstadt is intended to offer an alternative to a capitalist mode of disciplinary social organization, but in building out a system and architecture to ensure its own survival, the project is forced to operate within and through the systems it moves against. As the performance continues, it begins to resemble other institutions, particularly museums, dedicated to the production of stability, located in historically buildings, and run through a system of donations and a paranoid governance structure. The Halberstadt performance operates as an an anarchistically-inflected alternative which replicates the logics it seeks to undermine.

The miscalculation of the Halberstadt project as a space of possibility lies in the idea that society is already homogenous, disciplined, and territorialized, rather than filled with spaces of experimentation and possibility. Capitalism operates not as a monolith of disciplinary power, but as an interlinked series of interchangeable sites. Fuller's utopia has developed in almost every sense except the architectural.39 Yet, at the same time, counter-architectures appear and operate constantly—developing and spreading like mushrooms after a forest fire.40 Perhaps the Halbserstadt performance of ORGAN2/ASLSP participates as one of those spaces. It certainly has time to develop and evolve.

  1. Ulrich Stock, “Pfeifen Für Die Ewigkeit” (Die Zeit, September 12, 2001),↩︎

  2. Stock.↩︎

  3. John-Cage-Orgel-Stiftung Halberstadt, “John-Cage-Orgel-Kunst-Projekt Halberstadt,” n.d.,↩︎

  4. John Cage, Organ2/ASLSP (Leipzig: Edition Peters, 1987); John Cage, ASLSP (Leipzig: Edition Peters, 1985).↩︎

  5. Hans Fidom, “Coping with Cage: On Organ2/ASLSP, Listening, and Music-Making Coping with Cage: On,” ASAP/Journal 4, no. 3 (September 2019): 496; John Cage, “Database of Works: ASLSP,” n.d.,; John Cage, “Database of Works: Organ2/ASLSP,” n.d.,↩︎

  6. Quoted in Fidom, “Coping with Cage,” 496.↩︎

  7. Fidom, “Coping with Cage.”↩︎

  8. Richard Kostelanetz, Conversing with Cage, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2003), 279.↩︎

  9. Branden W. Joseph, “John Cage and the Architecture of Silence,” October 81 (1997): 87.↩︎

  10. Kostelanetz, Conversing with Cage, 176.↩︎

  11. Joseph, “John Cage and the Architecture of Silence,” 97.↩︎

  12. Kostelanetz, Conversing with Cage, 279.↩︎

  13. Ernö Goldfinger, “The Sensation of Space,” The Architectural Review 90, no. 539 (November 1, 1941): 128–31.↩︎

  14. John Cage, A Year from Monday: New Lectures and Writings (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1967), 33.↩︎

  15. Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” trans. Jay Miskowiec, Diacritics 16, no. 1 (1986): 24–25.↩︎

  16. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon Books, 1977), 149–69.↩︎

  17. Foucault, 157.↩︎

  18. Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 26.↩︎

  19. Richard T. Eldridge, “Interview with Rainer O. Neugebauer” (NAMM Music Fair, January 21, 2021),↩︎

  20. John-Cage-Orgel-Stiftung Halberstadt, “John Cage Organ Project: eGuide,” 2022,↩︎

  21. John-Cage-Orgel-Stiftung Halberstadt.↩︎

  22. John-Cage-Orgel-Stiftung Halberstadt, “John-Cage-Orgel-Kunst-Projekt Halberstadt: Impressum,” 2022,↩︎

  23. Veerle Spronck, “Testing the Parameters of Music: The Halberstadt Performance of John Cage’s ORGAN2/ASLSP as Experimental System,” Junctions: Graduate Journal of the Humanities 2, no. 1 (March 2017): 44–46.↩︎

  24. Daniel J. Wakin, “An Organ Recital for the Very, Very Patient,” New York Times, May 5, 2006,↩︎

  25. Fidom, “Coping with Cage,” 497; Wakin, “An Organ Recital for the Very, Very Patient.”↩︎

  26. Fidom, “Coping with Cage.”↩︎

  27. Warren Senders, “The John Cage Organ Project Halberstadt and Climate Change: Interview with Rainer O. Neugebauer” (Music 4 Climate Justice at 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, November 12, 2021),↩︎

  28. Zoë Lescaze, “How Should Art Reckon with Climate Change?” T: New York Times Style Magazine, March 25, 2022,↩︎

  29. Lescaze.↩︎

  30. Antoine Chaigne and Jean Kergomard, Acoustics of Musical Instruments (New York: Springer New York, 2016), 186.↩︎

  31. John Cage and Richard Friedman, “A Conversation with John Cage” (Pacific Radio Archives, December 6, 1969),; see also Sara Heimbecker, HPSCHD, Gesamtkunstwerk, and Utopia,” American Music 26, no. 4 (2008): 481–82.↩︎

  32. Rainer O. Neugebauer, ‘I Think What We Need in the Field of Music Is a Very Long Performance ...’ (JAMA Symposium 2021; Lecture, October 23, 2021), 6.↩︎

  33. Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development, trans. Barbara Luiga La Penta (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1976), 178–81.↩︎

  34. Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia; Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 241.↩︎

  35. Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia, 139–42.↩︎

  36. Tafuri, 142; Branden W. Joseph, Experimentations: John Cage in Music, Art, and Architecture (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), 92.↩︎

  37. Joseph, Experimentations, 93–94; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi, 2007 Edition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 267.↩︎

  38. Quoted in Joseph, Experimentations, 95–96.↩︎

  39. Joseph, 96–97.↩︎

  40. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017).↩︎