While not quite in the same class as John Cage's 4 minutes 33 seconds of silence, Andy Warhol's empty sculpture stand or Gianni Motti's blank white canvases, rock musician Beck's decision to release his latest album only as a collection of 20 pieces of sheet music constitutes something more than artistic eccentricity.
An ironic commentary on music in the post-Napster, post-file sharing, post-Spotify era? Perhaps. But it is nonetheless difficult to shake off the feeling that his fans are being short-changed by an album he has not even bothered to record.
For all platinum-selling Beck's penchant for postmodern twists, there are limits to the insight that art is as much about the observer as the artist. Maybe the plan is only to offer his own, definitive version once YouTube has filled up with fans' versions. The only question will be, will he turn up at the gig?
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