Jon Rose - Great Fences of Australia
  Year :   2002
  Location :   Australia
  Worktype :   Outdoor Performance
  Materials:   Fences Violin Bow
  Info :   The Melba Fence, Melbourne Festival 2002

  Work Details  
  For over 20 years, in addition to his work on and about the violin, Jon Rose has been bowing and recording the music of Fences worldwide. A wide range of atmospheric music can be coaxed from these ubiquitous landmarks. The project GREAT FENCES OF AUSTRALIA maps the vast spaces of Australia. Since 2002, violinists Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor have travelled 35,000 kilometres playing and recording the unique sounds of hundreds of fences in every state and territory of the fifth continent, including the well-known Dog Fence and Rabbit-Proof Fences . Along with this video and audio material, the lives and histories of the people who build, look after or use the fences has also been documented. The first manifestation of Great Fences was hosted by The Melbourne Festival 2002 under the title BOWING FENCES; over nine thousand people heard sixty performances on the specially constructed fence. Since then, the project has featured in festivals at Mercat des Flores, Barcelona; Museo de Belles Artes, Madrid; Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto; the ghost town of Malparinka in Sturt National Park; and over twenty-five thousand people witnessed the Fence installation and performances for The Sydney Festival 2004 at The Art Gallery of New South Wales. It 2004, the project was showcased at The Adelaide Festival and also that year, invited to the Aboriginal Community of Nauiyu on the Daly River in the Northern Territory for their Merrepen Arts Festival. After further extensive exploration and documentation of fences in Central Australia, the project was featured in the Darwin Festival. 2005 saw Great Fences installed and performed for a month at The Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments, and by its omnipresence there, radically extending the definition of musical instrument . In planning is a specially designed Fence based on the principles of Just Intonation and the Fibonacci series. With financial support, its construction should take place in Western Australia in 2006/7. It is designed to remain in situ after the initial performances and be powered (Aeolian-style) by the strong winds of the outback. A radiophonic version of the project entitled Voices from the Fence has been commissioned by the ABC, and a CD complete with specimen of rusty barbed wire, has been produced by Dynamo House (Melbourne). Hollis Taylor is preparing a book Post Impressions on the entire Fence project. The fence represents all kinds of manmade endeavours and disasters. Fences arrived with the end of the hunter-gatherer way of life and the introduction of agriculture. The invention of steel cable in the nineteenth century gave the fence its present distance-warping characteristics. Fences can be seen as analogies for the old battle between our species and nature, for the desire of exploration, control, and exploitation of resources; they indicate a frontier history of extreme hardship. They also mark the close physical association of man with his environment, the notion of belonging, the boundaries of cultures and political systems, a sense of the private and public, a statement that says I exist. The fence today is even used to protect the natural world from our own excesses. In Australia, fences are a very new addition to the environment. Certainly they were being erected within months of white settlement. While flying over the most isolated parts of the Australian interior, one notices the existence of fences often with their service tracks beside them. Why on earth are they there? Who put them there? How long did it take? Some fences seem so old that they often take on a mantel of defensive invincibility. But all fences are in fact transitory, finite. Even the longest fence in the world, the so-called dingo fence of Australia, will eventually succumb to nature despite the efforts of those who painstakingly and regularly repair it. The geography will survive the history. Whatever your view of fences, they seem unstoppable, they are everywhere. Like all good mammals marking out their territory, western man defines his world with fences. Some land owners, however, still prefer the watering hole to the fence as a leash on their wandering cattle. And of course fence construction clearly interfered with, if not helped destroy, the Indigenous Australian s nomadic way of life.