Mar­co Fusinato
Mass Black Implo­sion (Trea­tise, Cor­nelius Cardew)

9th October – 16th November 2013
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Mar­co Fusinato’s works are almost always ser­i­al, as if demon­strat­ing a the­sis, using a set of rules as con­trols’ for exper­i­men­ta­tion. Cer­tain para­me­ters are applied to the giv­en source mate­r­i­al, and the results dis­played non- hier­ar­chi­cal­ly as objec­tive data. While Fusina­to with­holds his own inter­pre­ta­tion of these images and objects, the mate­r­i­al itself plain­ly indi­cates the artist’s inter­ests in the poten­tial over­lap of cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion and rad­i­cal politics.

In his ongo­ing series Mass Black Implo­sion (2007 – ) Fusina­to takes scores by avant-garde com­posers, draw­ing lines from each orig­i­nal note to a cho­sen point. The com­plet­ed draw­ings act as propo­si­tions for new noise com­po­si­tions, or moments of extreme con­sol­i­da­tion and inten­si­ty, as if every note were played at once.

Over the past five years of the Mass Black Implo­sion series, Fusina­to has engaged with works by John Cage, Ian­nis Xenakis, Béla Bartók, Per­cy Grainger, Yves Klein, Glenn Gould, Antho­ny Pat­eras and oth­ers. The para­me­ters of this body of work are straight-for­ward: each draw­ing is com­prised of a fac­sim­i­le of the full score of the select­ed piece of music; the for­mat of the orig­i­nal pub­li­ca­tion is retained so that each page of the score is an indi­vid­u­al­ly-framed draw­ing, installed accord­ing to the orig­i­nal pag­i­na­tion; each note on a page is con­nect­ed by a straight line to a sin­gle point that Fusina­to des­ig­nates arbi­trar­i­ly. A full work might be a sin­gle page, or in the case of Mass Black Implo­sion (Trea­tise, Cor­nelius Cardew)’, 193 pages installed togeth­er, in this iter­a­tion, in a bloc along one wall.

Anoth­er com­mon­al­i­ty between the works in Mass Black Implo­sion is evi­dent: each com­pos­er that Fusina­to plays’ is a lead­ing fig­ure of the Twen­ti­eth or Twen­ty-first Cen­tu­ry musi­cal avant-gardes; each one is a rule-break­er. Sub­mit­ting the works of these rad­i­cal, and often rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent, com­posers to a rig­or­ous sys­tem of com­pli­ance, Fusina­to occu­pies and trans­forms these exist­ing works from expla­na­tions of sound-over-dura­tion, into a state­ment of sound-as-event. To bor­row terms from anoth­er of Fusinato’s modes of pro­duc­tion, the Mass Black Implo­sions are instances of appro­pri­a­tion with dis­tor­tion and amplification.

Fusinato’s adop­tion of Cardew’s Trea­tise for this exhi­bi­tion is a par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant moment in the series. The British com­pos­er (19361981) wrote Trea­tise over four years, 1963 – 67. Now a canon­i­cal work of mod­ern West­ern music, the score is 193 pages of graph­ic nota­tion — lines, sym­bols and geo­met­ric forms — with­out any instruc­tions to musi­cians on how to inter­pret and play the work. Cardew’s inten­tion was to allow per­form­ers the free­dom to inter­pret his visu­al lan­guage them­selves, with no two per­for­mances sound­ing the same, though this was not an endorse­ment of impro­vi­sa­tion (Cardew expect­ed the per­for­mance would be rehearsed, with the forms and sounds read and devised in advance). Cardew’s biog­ra­ph­er John Tilbury has sug­gest­ed that the score can be bro­ken into dis­crete sec­tions, based on the sequence of nota­tions. In per­for­mance it usu­al­ly is; ensem­bles select one or sev­er­al pages and make from these their full con­cert. Fusinato’s appli­ca­tion of the sin­gle-point per­spec­tive rule to each indi­vid­ual page reasserts this.

Cardew is a sin­gu­lar char­ac­ter in mod­ern music, whose per­son­al ide­ol­o­gy saw him give up exper­i­men­tal music in the ear­ly 1970s, denounc­ing even his own ground-break­ing work on the basis of his increas­ing­ly far-left beliefs. There has been spec­u­la­tion that his death by hit-and-run in 1981 was not acci­den­tal, and that his out­spo­ken Marx­ist-Lennin­ist posi­tion was rea­son enough for a state-ini­ti­at­ed inter­ven­tion. This leg­end then, along­side his already remark­able and unique oeu­vre as a com­pos­er, makes him all the more appro­pri­ate a sub­ject for Fusinato’s wider project.

Fusinato’s treat­ment of Trea­tise (Cardew’s title itself a ref­er­ence to Lud­wig Wittgenstein’s Trac­ta­tus Logi­co-Philo­soph­i­cus, or Log­i­cal-Philo­soph­i­cal Trea­tise) allows the audi­ence the expe­ri­ence of see­ing the entire work at once, rather than the con­ven­tion­al page-by-page mode of recep­tion that both musi­cal and philo­soph­i­cal scores require. The two five-line staves that run through each of Cardew’s pages (his only ref­er­ence here to con­ven­tion­al nota­tion) is left untouched by the artist’s net of lines, a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of time among the oth­er sym­bols that are tak­en as rep­re­sen­ta­tions of sound. Also con­stant is the posi­tion of the point of implo­sion’ on each page, the reg­u­lar­i­ty defy­ing and dis­ci­plin­ing Cardew’s irreg­u­lar­i­ty into uni­ty, crush­ing them into the same experience.

Pre­sent­ed in asso­ci­a­tion with Mel­bourne Festival.


Mar­co Fusinato

Mass Black Implo­sion (Trea­tise, Cor­nelius Cardew), 2013
Ink on archival fac­sim­i­le of score
193 parts 17.527.5 cm each (47.563.5 cm framed)