American music composer John Cage was known for his work with prepared pianos. He ‘prepared’ his pianos by placing different objects between the strings of the instrument, the result being an unconventional sound from the classical instrument. Inspired by one of Cage’s famous works, Music of Changes, French artist Caecilia Tripp conceptualised Music for Prepared Bicycles.
On Cage’s 100th birth anniversary this year, Tripp conceptualised this project, for which she has replaced the spokes of a bicycle with strings of an electric guitar and placed playing cards in between them. The next step of the project involves riding this bicycle through streets of several cities of the world, beginning with Mumbai. “Cage believed that there should be no distinction between the public and the performer. Mahatma Gandhi and the Civil Disobedience movement also influenced Cage. Hence, I felt that the project also relates to the present times of revolutions and transitions,” says Tripp.
Tripp got Nikhil Raunak, a student from the Sir JJ School of Arts to ride around the city, which began at the August Kranti Maidan —— the place where Gandhi declared the Quit India Movement. Next, Tripp filmed Raunak’s route for three days through different parts of the city including the wetlands of Sewri and made a 15-minute documentary where the sounds of the street merge with that of the bicycle, following Cage’s belief.
Tripp will create a different bicycle in every city she visits in order to interact with handicraft artists of the city and further involve the audience in her art. The playing cards stuck between the spokes of the cycle represent the youth hailing from socially disregarded suburbs around the world. Tripp who has been here for three months now began her project in the city because of Cage’s belief in Indian philosophy. She plans to head to Mexico City, Armenia and Guangzhou in China, making a new bicycle in each city.