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Spectral Arrows is an ongoing series of long-duration performances for guitar and electronics by Marco Fusinato. In Spectral Arrows, Fusinato arrives at the venue when it opens for business, sets up his equipment facing a wall and proceeds to play for the whole day until the end of business hours. Fusinato presents himself here in the guise of a worker, clocking on and unceremoniously clocking off at the end of his 8-hour day, refusing to allow the behind-the-scenes mystery of rehearsals and preparations to lend an aura to the performance, and affirming the deskilled ethos of his work. For the audience, the length of the performance frustrates the expectation of a manageable form, forcing all but the hardiest to content themselves with only a fragment of the whole. Even for those who stick it out, the extended duration, like in the late works of Morton Feldman, destroys the listener’s ability to retain and assess the structure of the performance. Breaking with both the traditional form of the musical performance and, through Fusinato’s resolutely anti-social position facing way from the audience, the standard affective relationship between audience and performer, the sound of Spectral Arrows becomes a monumental aural sculpture, filling the gallery, not with steel or concrete, but with vibrations traveling through air. Spectral Arrows: Venice was recorded during Fusinato’s participation in the 2015 Venice Biennale. Where Spectral Arrows: Rotterdam (De Player, 2013) and Spectral Arrows: Sydney (Planam, 2014) presented heavily edited highlight reels, here we get five longer excerpts from the 8-hour performance. The longer sections accentuate the sculptural aspect of the work, as extended passages of nearly static sound-mass direct the listener’s attention to micro-details of textural variation. This sense of monumentality is intensified by the rich acoustics of the theatre in which the performance was recorded (Teatro Piccolo), a converted 15th century tannery in Venice’s historic Arsenale industrial complex.
Previous performances sometimes pushed the use of electronics to the point where the guitar was annihilated. Fusinato here scales back his set-up, emphasizing the guitar as sound-source. Even in the thickest passages (which recall the density of early 90s Merzbow), the sound of fingers sliding up and down the fret-board is made evident, and at times the waves of noise part to reveal a substructure of primitivist post-Bailey skronk. Spectral Arrows: Venice is a raw and invigorating mess/mass of searing feedback, mauled strings, and stuttering repetitions.