History of Art pres.
Tappan Talks: "Cassettes 100: Site and Sound in Philippine Performance"
On March 8, 1971, one hundred people carrying cassette players descended on the lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Called Cassettes 100, the happening was orchestrated by composer Jose Maceda one year prior to Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. Under the veil of performance, Cassettes 100 provided an occasion for a reconfiguration of public space and different articulations of agency within the bounds of an authoritarian, state-sanctioned institution. Maceda had composed a score of one hundred complementary parts individually recorded onto cassettes played by the participants. The cassettes included sound from musical instruments and environmental noises such as gongs, human voices, clappers, flutes, leaves, shells and so forth. The grand lobby of the Cultural Center had been adorned with rolls of white toilet paper and panels of paper. Floodlights flashed at six-minute intervals into relative darkness to indicate a change of positioning. Audience members were invited to circulate, interact and perform with the original hundred participants as images were projected onto the surfaces of paper and walls, blurring the distinction between participant and public amidst the chaos. The happening concretized a public that could refuse or resist Marcos’ claim of perfect national unity, a public that paradoxically could only persist due to the regime’s attention to state building and desire of foreign approval.
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