Following-on from our earlier article examining the meaning(s) of YES! . . .
Gary Peters, Professor of Critical and Cultural Theory at York St. John University, UK provides a paper ‘‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Don’t Know’’ for the journal Parallax ( #56, 2010). His essay examines the affirmative implications of the word ‘Yes’ – especially with reference to art and philosophy – but, curiously perhaps, doesn’t mention of one of the most famous applications of ‘Yes’ in art – Yoko Ono’s Ceiling Painting (1966).
Viewers of Ono’s now-classic piece climbed up a white step-ladder in the centre of the Indica Gallery in London, finding a magnifying glass hanging from the ceiling which allowed them to view the word “YES” written in tiny letters on a framed piece of paper fixed to the ceiling. As John Lennon put it at the time : “I would have been quite disappointed if it had said ‘NO,’ but was saved by the fact it said ‘YES'”.
The paper does, however, cover the philosophical implications of an earlier and perhaps equally world-famous artistic usage of ‘Yes’ – created by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn back in 1922 – ‘Yes, We Have No Bananas’
“Like the famous song––‘Yes, We Have No Bananas’––the co-presence of affirmation and negation is not dialectically resolved but announced as an affirmation of negation that, in Heidegger’s sense, allows the work to leap into its own becoming.”
The professor also curated a collection of thirteen especially composed ‘YES!’-inspired musical items for the journal issue (four of which feature him as composer/performer). Unfortunately they weren’t included in the final production of the journal, but they are nevertheless archived online and can be heard or downloaded here. (mp3 format)