Tak­ing a bat to Mar­co Fusina­to’s sound-struck installation

Linda Morris
The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 2018

Con­tem­po­rary artist and exper­i­men­tal noise musi­cian”, Mar­co Fusina­to, has wit­nessed some scary audi­ence reac­tions to his enor­mous sound instal­la­tion, Con­stel­la­tions, 20152018, which invites vis­i­tors to pick up a base­ball bat and bash what seems to be a plain white gallery wall.

Inside the wall are 16 micro­phones con­nect­ed to a con­cert-size ampli­fi­er that send 120 deci­bels rever­ber­at­ing through the space when struck.

Artist Mami Katao­ka, cura­tor of the Syd­ney Bien­nale, with Mar­co Fusina­to’s sound wall at Carriageworks.

Pho­to: Steven Siewert

In straight-jack­et­ed Sin­ga­pore where the piece pre­miered in 2015 six bats were smashed in the first two days neces­si­tat­ing their replace­ment with an alu­mini­um version.

It was fright­en­ing watch­ing the aggres­sion of peo­ple as they unleash,” Fusina­to said. It’s heavy. You real­ly get a sense of how peo­ple are feel­ing and how they behave espe­cial­ly in a space which is usu­al­ly so pas­sive. Every­body is dif­fer­ent. Some choose not to do it. Some of the peo­ple I did­n’t expect were the more aggres­sive. I did see some school girls who were real­ly super aggres­sive and I did­n’t see that coming.”

Artist Mami Katao­ka had a prac­tice swing of the bat on Friday.

At Car­riage­works for the Bien­nale of Syd­ney, Fusina­to has set a one-strike lim­it. Will the bat sur­vive the native aggres­sion of Syd­neysiders? I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing how dec­i­mat­ed one side of the wall ends up,” he said.

The sound wall is one of the more inter­ac­tive art­works to be show­cased in the Syd­ney Bien­nale which opens across sev­en venues on Fri­day, March 16. Fusina­to is one of 15 Aus­tralian artists invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate. Chi­nese artist and activist Ai Wei­wei heads an impres­sive inter­na­tion­al line-up of 55 practitioners.

On Wednes­day NSW res­i­dents have been invit­ed to an advance pre­view of the bien­nale’s 21st show, titled SUPER­PO­SI­TION: Equi­lib­ri­um & Engage­ment curat­ed by artis­tic direc­tor Mami Katao­ka who had a prac­tice swing of the bat on Friday.

Fusina­to’s work Con­stel­la­tions refers to the mul­ti­tude of star-like dents that result from the strikes on the plas­ter wall.

It demon­strates Fusina­to’s con­tin­u­ing inter­est in rever­ber­a­tive noise and its capac­i­ty to struc­ture phys­i­cal space. But it is also an exper­i­ment in audi­ence behaviour.

One expects to hear the splin­ter of wood against plas­ter­board but it is over­tak­en by the impact of the ampli­fied sound,” Fusina­to said. So it is quite a phys­i­cal expe­ri­ence for the audi­ence. They recoil from their own action.”


The idea, says Fusina­to, came out of think­ing about filmic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of vio­lence. The base­ball and chain has turned up in episodes of The Sopra­nos and The Simp­sons.

But it also is a com­men­tary on the chang­ing face and func­tion of muse­um and gal­leries. Fusina­to says these insti­tu­tions have become like shop­ping malls”, need­ing to attract large num­bers of vis­i­tors to jus­ti­fy gov­ern­ment sup­port and cor­po­rate sponsorship.

Muse­ums have changed from being a place of con­tem­pla­tion into one of enter­tain­ment and I’m inter­est­ed in that shift and how we deal with that and [play­ing with] audi­ences’ expec­ta­tions also,” he said.

This piece cer­tain­ly plays on those ten­sions and con­tra­dic­tions. Noise ver­sus silence. One side is pas­sive, the oth­er side aggres­sive. Cer­tain­ly there is a lot of dif­fer­ent ten­sions in the piece.”

Con­stel­la­tions, 20152018 will be on dis­play 10am-6pm dai­ly at Car­riage­works for the dura­tion of the Bien­nale of Syd­ney Fri­day, March 16-Mon­day, June 11.

Pho­to: Steven Siewert

Arti­cle link: here

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