Higgins’s Graphis series is a hauntingly beautiful, enigmatic body of work. Taking inspiration from Cage, with whom he studied, and from others who used unconventional notations for musical scores, Higgins developed the idea for the works to act as “unsemantic, even choreographic” scripts for theater, beginning in fall 1958. These “plays” did not specify “what was to be said” but instead are graphic notations that are to be treated as plans of action. As Higgins wrote in 1961:
All of the series is used to provide movements and sounds which can be produced by or with the human body. No external mechanizations are to be employed except for illumination purposes. All markings on the face of the notation are to be considered as notation, and all elements of these markings are to be used or deliberately ignored for the production of movements and sounds according to any consistent system which the individual performer devises for the notation he is using.
Gallery label from There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33”, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014.