Aesthete of the Week

rose fingers IIWho but an artist’s peers can understand the torment of the creative soul, not to mention the musical uses to which a barbed-wire fence might be put? Jon Rose, a violinist with a quite striking technique, certainly gets it, as he left a 2012 audience at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre in no doubt when lamenting the philistinism that makes it so very difficult for the modern aesthete to go about his or her business while also paying the rent.

Consumerism, the insurance industry, security guards, inner-city real estate — they all place their burdens on those who, as Rose complains, wish only to gift the world with their vision. It is such a battle.

“The music that interests me is not the sort of music that the majority of citizens care to listen to or enjoy,” Rose told his Wheeler Centre audience, which enjoyed a little giggle when, further into his address, he mentioned that he has been questioned, presumably by knuckle-dragging sorts, “whether what I did was actually music.”

Of course it is music! The Australia Council has said as much over and over again, contributing very nearly $250,000 since 2008 to the comfortable betterment of Rose’s muse.

Since he plays mostly to small audiences, as he admits, Quadrant Online is delighted to present some of his work to the taxpayers who have funded so much of it. Below, the entries in the Australia Council’s ledger of funds dispersed, punctuated by examples of the beauty it helped to purchase and the artist’s explorations of its various meanings.

“Australia, it’s a frustrating place,” sighs Rose in the second of the video clips below, “a disaster, culturally.”

Funny that he would say that.

rose 2008

“Part of Sound Circus 2012 which was modeled on the idea of a traveling circus, taking traditional, new and experimental music to White Cliffs and the extreme western areas of NSW, plus one off visits to Queensland, & South Australia – the area known as ‘Corner Country’ “

rose 2009

“A chainsaw orchestra, a singing dog, an aboriginal women’s choir, a woman who makes music from DOT Matrix printers, and a man who screams into (and chews on) amplified glass are just some of the musical innovators Jon Rose met on both sides of the 40,000 kilometers of fences he turned into musical instruments throughout Australia.”

rose 2011


“Pursuit Instruments. A selection from the bicycle powered instruments that have been built for the Pursuit Project in Australia by Paul Bryant, Rod Cooper, Robin Fox, Harry Vatiliotis, and Jon Rose.”

rose 2014

“The film is the last documentation of the Triple neck, Double Piston, Wheeling violin built by Jon Rose. Apart from two bows, It had sympathetic strings as well as on board battery powered electronics. The instrument was built to prove that music could be measured in distance as well as time.”

rose 2016

“Apart from The Data Violin’s function performing “The Sound of Money” (the data of stock exchange traders becoming the player of this machine), Jon Rose is setting out to explore the full potential of this new mechanical musical instrument – which was a collaboration with Martin Riches and Sukandar Kartadinata”


9 thoughts on “Aesthete of the Week

  • gary@feraltek.com.au says:

    His next grant will be for “Green Terminal Energy”, an environmental opus where he plays a single awfully brief bow stroke on the stretched high voltage transmission line from the Yass Valley wind farm.

    • Lawriewal says:

      But but…
      Will it be so brief?
      you did after all nominate a wind farm.
      High probability that it will NOT be generating when he puts bow to wire:-)

  • ian.macdougall says:

    Er. Ahem. Psst!
    Can I draw your attention to a call in this very journal for funding, or withdrawal thereof, to be used as a political weapon? I refer of course to the article by Bob Carter The Best the IPCC Can Do on the main page.

    If a slick video and the IPCC’s latest inaccurate and untruthful arguments are the best it can do to demonstrate a dangerous warming problem, its advice should be ignored and funding withdrawn.

    No matter what the source, I can not agree with such a political tactic. Advocacy of it does no credit to you.
    Play ‘yes, but…’ with it all you like; the hypocrisy remains.

    • Rob Brighton says:

      Sauce for the goose, or to reduce it to school yard vernacular “They did it first sir”.

      For funding control has been utilised with panache over the years to promote agenda, the left are marvels at it, those with a conservative bent not so much. Its our own fault, just as you are unlikely to find people with conservative views in the sociology department you wont find conservatives by and large inhabiting grants committees. If we want balance someone has to step up and be part of the hand wringing set to act as counterbalance.

      I find myself slowly taking a step backwards as I ask, who is it going to be?

      • Warty says:

        Yeh, I’m with Real Oz here, though I’m not a real Oz, just a naturalised one. I do barrack for the Wallabies, spurn the Kangaroos and love our regional Waratahs.
        Sorry, I’m growing senile and have a tendency to wander. Oh yes, your statement ‘I find myself slowly taking a step backwards as I ask, who is it going to be’. Well, be-Jesus, tis you, you are the one who needs to man the barricades of ‘right-minded fortitude’, not someone else. Would you allow someone else to feed you , before your time? I think not.
        I could extend the analogy, but for propriety’s sake I’ll curb my tongue.

    • Lawriewal says:

      You do have a most er let’s say original take on most topics.
      Whatever floats your boat I guess.

  • en passant says:

    Ah! ‘The Life of Jon’ where sneering brings wealth and glory, recognition and accolades. If we are such a cultural disaster, then why does he not head off to the great centres of culture – wherever they my be …Then again he can always screw money out of the wealth redistribution arms by simply whinging.

    Best of all would be that he get a really useful job (along with Ian) stacking shelves somewhere, but I doubt it would pay him as much filthy and despisable lucre.

  • Warty says:

    Another ‘interesting’ beneficiary is Overland Ltd, which incorporates AusLit. AusLit describes itself: ‘AustLit is a non-profit collaboration between a network of researchers from Australian universities and the National Library of Australia, led by The University of Queensland. Our goal is to support research into, and the teaching of, Australian literary, narrative, and print cultures and the expansion of knowledge about the place of story in Australian culture in the past and present.

    AustLit collaborators form a powerful coalition of senior literary researchers, librarians, and information-management professionals.’

    Overland Ltd also incorporates the Overland magazine, which you can speed read/ glance at/ give a quick sniff at on-line. I prefer Kleenex Wondersoft personally, as I’m a little too old to rough it. An article I found interesting, if only from an ironic point of view, was one entitled ‘Political correctness gone right wing’ and it rabbits-on about how censorious ultra conservatives had been about Roz Ward and her Safe Schools programme. The attached cartoon is equally fascinating, as it depicts a horde of long-haired, Knuckle-dragging, late middle aged hippies, looking just a tad irate, obviously about Christ-like Roz Ward (you no doubt remember the old adage about the prophet not being appreciated on his home turf). Personally, I fully identify with the cartoon, because I had been a bit of an anarchist in my early twenties, though I had long hair then, not now. Nevertheless, I’m an old short-haired, ex hippy gone conservative, which fits part of the cartoon).
    Did I read the entire article, or any of the others, well, no, unfortunately I suddenly got the runs and had to nip off to the loo.

    • BOB HAY says:

      Poor John, such an ungrateful world. After reading that I nearly decided to cancel my Membership of the world, but just in time decided to remain a brutish Philistine.

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