Jon Rose In Japan: Violin Pornography

December 12, 2011

This clip of unused production material from “The Reach Of Resonance,” tells the story behind the extensive collection of violin pornography at The Rosenberg Museum.  What is The Rosenberg Museum? Find out here: vimeo.com/33099085

Who are the Rosenbergs? The most famous (i.e. dead) is Dr. Johannes Rosenberg, who not only holds the world record for Violin Throwing, but whose legendary missing Violin Concerto was found in 1988 in the men’s toilet bowl of a well known Berlin railway station. “The manuscript contains all kinds of unlikely related material which predicted the computer information revolution of the present day,” writes Dr. Fritz Schumann in his 1989 article “Rosenberg: A Reconstruction.” “The referential ‘clues’ in the score deal mainly with communication systems information. For example – the Berlin ‘U’ Bahn layout; a list of French telephone subscribers; civil and military aircraft flight paths; the plans of American communication bases in Australia; print outs of Swiss bank accounts. This might be the reason why, it is strongly suspected, the CIA were somehow involved in the disappearance of the Violin Concerto…the score includes parts for a dance band, a large industrial pneumatic hammer, a traditional song performed by a football crowd in Italy, a Laplander in mid orgasm, and the digital recording of a monkey’s fart. And what is the common link in all these sonic components? The answer is Rosenberg’s Unified Music Relativity Theory.”

Lest we forget, “Dr. Rosenberg’s Sinfonia Concertante is a masterpiece which even today baffles musicologists,” musicologist Walter Dalowitz once proclaimed in a lecture to students in Trieste. “The opening is a tour de force: 174 bars of tuba and triangle while the rest of the orchestra remains completely silent. It instructs all the string players to leave the concert platform, get into taxis driven by a singing Italian, and play the written parts while under way to prescribed destinations in the suburbs. Sometimes grace notes have to be carried across the entire orchestra in a wave like motion – from the west to the eastern suburbs on an upbeat and from south to north on the downbeat. Again, the taxi drivers remain in radio contact even though they have a notorious B flat. Strict tempo is required for synchronisation with the traffic lights. An improvisatory passage allows pedestrians the right to cross the road without warning, thus interrupting the waves of grace notes at any time in any traffic zone, including one way streets in response to the weather and consequential acoustic conditions. Here we see Rosenberg’s attention to detail, down to exact taxi speeds for specific streets, even how much for the tip.”

Dr. Rosenberg also wanted to cover most of Western, Central, and North Eastern Australia with self-reproducing violins which were played by the wind and fitted with biosensors, enabling the violins to “sniff” the first puffs of the late afternoon breeze. Somewhere in the region of a billion violins were required. All identical. He wanted to conduct an exorcism of contemporary art-reproduce to death, or at least the death of art, but probably the death of himself. As that old wanker Baudrillard has said, “Cheese is no longer possible, because the word for dairy has lost its meaning and ‘meaning’ has been milked dry by people like me.”

Rosenberg eventually obtained financial support from the following organizations: Union Carbide, Peter Morris, United Press, Bond Corporation, and Holmes a Court. Their investment in the project was based on the expected huge returns as the site developed into an international tourist attraction. Rosenberg had no scruples about ‘dirty’ money – to him there was no such thing as “clean” money for the arts. But there was such a thing as a clean environment and the violins (constructed from recycled art catalogues and coffee tables) were biodegradable.

However, Dr. Rosenberg left a heavier footprint near the south pole, as revealed in an interview he agreed to undertake with the Berlin newspaper TAZ while performing his 1941 masterpiece “4 Kilometers; 33 Meters” on his Triple Neck, Double Piston, Wheeling Violin (a concept later stolen by John Cage in his wildly derivative “4 Minutes; 33 Seconds”). When asked if by being the first violinist to climb Mount Everest – did he have any regrets, Rosenberg replied that yes, there was one. In the early ’70s the Australian Research Department of the CSIRO had invited him to perform solo to 10,000 penguins in the Antarctic – part of a behavioral study on concert audiences and temperature. Performing to this well dressed audience was an inspiration. Rosenberg played a series of -40 degree Celsius concerts, but the effect on the environment was disastrous, as we can now perceive by the damage done to the ozone layer.

In his youth Rosenberg was attracted to the so-called Epimenides Paradox, which in up-dated language asks the question – is “this statement is false”, true or false? He went on to consider a violin language in which the violin could pronounce – “this is not a violin” (the idea, like many of Rosenberg’s was stolen – in this case by Magritte in his painting Ceci n’est pas une pipe). From there it was a simple jump to make a violin music which could say “this is not violin music.” This became known in late Rosenberg works as the “Weekend Factor.”

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