On Sunday night on a Limelight Magazine prompted whim (helped that it was free) off to Carriageworks with D for a brief performance by Jon Rose: The Museum Goes Live.

I’ve been following Jon Rose, mostly from a distance, for years.  In very general terms, he works with music or sound made with some combination of wind, wires, bows and bicycles.  The museum in question is a collection of violin-like instruments and associated violin-related kitsch.  It’s an impressive and intriguing collection and a very sustained body of work, not to mention at least one heroically sustained joke which actually manages to be funny, albeit one that owes a bit to Peter Schickele’s PDQ Bach.

Some of Rose’s inventions and instruments used in the performance have a decidedly Heath-Robinsonish air.  A more modern one is described as a violin played by recording of trading on Wall Street – you can see that at about 6:00 here.

I think there are meant to be some more serious environmentalist and political messages beneath the tending-to-satirical surface.  I’m not necessarily convinced that the performance leads to the stated message though maybe I need to think about that a bit more.  I find this kind of message a bit on a par with words written on paintings and dancers speaking.  But if not leavened with art, would we be ready for the message?

Is it music?  D and I had a discussion about this after.  D thought it was. I tend to think not really, because I wouldn’t really want to listen to the sound on its own on repeated occasions by, say, buying a CD or whatever it is people buy now.

Afterthought: I say “I” but I mean anybody.  Sound art?  Possibly  [Outmoded litmus-test: radio play or the Italia Prize], but given the impact of the setting, performance-art.

There’s a second round beginning Wednesday and I plan to go.



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