audio tours with Nobody and Yasunao Tone

The following is an email i sent to the ArtRadio e-group* on April 15 2003…

It seems like a long time ago, but my mate Nobody (who did the excellent WeedKiller/PestController project at an abandoned drive in cinema in 2002, together with Maxine Foxxx) was scouring around for projects related to his own…I remembered reading about Japanese artist Yasunao Tone. I thought this post might live well here, on this blog!

Hi all.
Just a note to offer a sketch of an idea I had about five minutes
ago. Or rather, an idea I stole from a Japanese fluxus artist I was
reading about. His name is Yasunao Tone, and in the most recent
Yokohama Triennial (whatever that is) he presented a work called
"Parasite/Noise". Here is a quote about it:

"Functioning as an altered audio guide to the exhibition itself, Parasite/Noise
consists of headsets which ‘play a text read aloud which has nothing to do with
the exhibited works themselves’, thereby creating a disjunction between
what is seen and what is heard, between the ‘meaning’ of the work
witnessed and the heard text. As Tone posits, the work is a ‘pseudo
audio guide’ reasserting such guides as interfaces between audience and
art. Yet for Tone this interface offers the chance to redirect
‘meaning’ by sabotaging the one-to-one equation of what the museum
says and what the art work does. Here the very authorial language of
art institutions is shortcircuited through what Tone calls ‘paramedia’
a kind of parasitic alteration that leads to an altogether different
signification. "

What I like about the piece is that it offers a new form of dialogue
around the venue, the exhibited thing, and the viewer
in a way which is not separate from the time and place that those three
poles converge. This is in contrast to a published article or radio
broadcast which by their very nature ‘stand apart’ from the thing they
are discussing (unless what they are reflexively discussing is that act
itself of reading or listening).

What I reckon could be even more exciting about
Tone’s project would be if it were completely unauthorized and
unsolicited by the institution. From my experience working in the MCA,
the words and texts which emerge parallel to the exhibition (like wall
texts, media releases, catalogues) are all heavily vetted and approved
by various levels of hierarchy, often resulting in atrophied and dull
statements which say only the most predictable things. It’s even
somewhat unheard of to encounter a staff member openly saying that
they didn’t like such and such an exhibition for whatever reason
(except with reference to its public/critical popularity or lack thereof.)

What I was thinking was that we (the artradio
group, or some of us, or others too) might prepare such an unauthorized
audio guide to a big show at the MCA (or wherever else) It would give
us the chance to hone our audio skills in the production of broadcast
quality programmes while still waiting approval to parasite onto one
or another of those radio stations. As to how it could
work, that might be open to the group to evolve whether an individual
was in charge of an individual exhibition tour, or individuals took
on the same show in however many different ways, or some collaborative
way was found to tackle the whole thing.

What do you think?


(An e-group we established to try set up an artist's radio programme on radio fbi in sydney – a project which never got off the ground due to (what we regarded as) fbi's precious ideas about programming)

One thought on “audio tours with Nobody and Yasunao Tone

  1. Gabrielle Post author

    You have probably got over this idea by now, but you may want to speak with Danielle Freakley about this project – I seem to remember that she was planning a similar thing in Melbourne with the NGV.


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