Exhibition News

Great Fences of Australia exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

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Published Monday, 19 January 2004

Wherever they have travelled, they have recorded the stories of local people who relate to the fences. The images, the stories and the sounds of the fences all become a part of an installation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, while twice a day the artists will perform live with a re-created section of the fence in the Gallery.

Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor are two virtuoso violinist/composers who specialise in new music and experimental sound installations but are equally at home with the classics. For the past two years, they have been photographing the extent of the great system of fences that cross the Australian Outback, including the Dingo Fence and the Rabbit-Proof Fence. They have documented ancient and decayed fragments and the freshly maintained working fences. There are some startlingly beautiful images of fences running into infinity or of rotting posts disappearing into salt lakes or sand. All fences are potential instruments - they catch wind and resonate. Jon and Hollis have also been playing and recording these fence wires with their violin bows.

Many people look at Fences and see not much; we look and see giant musical string instruments covering a continent. The strings are so long that they become the resonators as well as the triggers for the sound. On straight stretches of a simple five-wire fence, the sound travels down the wires for hundreds of meters. The music is ethereal and elemental, incorporating an extended harmonic series (the structure of all sound); the longer the wire, the more harmonics become available. (Jon Rose)

Their performances are astonishing for the quality of sound and the special presence the two of them bring to their work.

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