The Influence

The whole-work aesthetic of Japanese doom-metal band Corrupted has been a major inspiration for the noise art of Marco Fusinato. By Kate Holden.

Marco Fusinato

Japanese doom-metal band Corrupted.
Credit: Tadakatsu Honda

Marco Fusinato is a renowned Melbourne-based artist who works across photography, sound, music, installation, performance and print media. Since the early 2000s he has worked on extended series, some open-ended, in which he explores iterations of an idea, often translating an image or representation into another medium. In other projects he sets up recurring collaborations or curations by fellow artists.

His work has been seen at many international exhibitions and biennales, including Soundings: A Contemporary Score (2013), the first exhibition of sound at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He is known for his musical recordings and durational noise performances, which are sometimes integrated with his visual artworks and can include performances of up to eight hours. He was nominated for two prestigious awards, the Nam June Paik Art Centre Prize, South Korea (2018) and the Nasher Prize, Dallas, United States (2017), and his work “All the World’s Futures” was included in the 2015 Venice Biennale. He will represent Australia at the 59th Venice Biennale next year. Fusinato’s newest work, EXPERIMENTAL HELL (ATMOSPHÆRAM), will open at Anna Schwartz Gallery once lockdowns permit.

For The Influence, he chose to discuss enigmatic Japanese doom-metal band Corrupted. 

Tell me about Corrupted.

Their intensity engages me. What I really like about them, and about a lot of the artists that I admire, is that it’s seen as a complete project. Everything is considered: the music, the packaging, and the way they present the project. For example, they refuse to do interviews, they don’t do any promotional photographs, all their song titles, lyrics and literature are in Spanish, yet they’re a band from Osaka in Japan. So there’s this kind of refusal, which I respect.

They’ve released a lot of singles and EPs and five full-length LPs. The recordings on the later LPs tend to be one long track or a couple of long tracks, with a heavy, down-tuned doom-laden aspect to them but interlaced with long sections of ambience using an array of instruments, from the harp to the keyboard to acoustic guitar. The vocals are guttural, a kind of growl. The singer has a voice as powerful as a bulldozer. Their music is melodic, and then explosive and intense at other times. The key is to listen to it loud, because of the dynamic range.

They’ve been active since the mid-’90s; from what I can gather they came out of a situation of anarcho-crust-meets-noise, and that’s an area I’m interested in. They made a consistent slew of recordings from that period, which have been really inspiring for me. Their artwork is consistent, in black-and-white, with a very particular use of graphic design. A lot of time they’ll use a photograph from the media of, y’know, depraved humanity, which I use in my work also – a very specific font and design, usually upper case. They take quotes from newspapers, magnify them. So there are certain sympathies there, is what I’m saying.

I’ve explicitly referenced Corrupted in two projects. In 2006, I began a project called THIS IS NOT MY WORLD, where over the years I’d invite a selection of graphic designers to do their take on that slogan, which was originally attached to the side of a government building by a group of dissident Yugoslavian artists protesting against the Tito regime. I finished that project in 2019, and for the last banner in that series I invited Masahiko Ohno, who is the graphic designer for Corrupted, to do his take.

Then when I was doing a survey show in 2012, I remember taking a Corrupted T-shirt off, and on the back of the T-shirt, in small letters, it said, “the colour of the sky has melted”. I thought, that’s a really apt title for this exhibition, because everything I was presenting was in black-and-white.

I grew up with bands like Slint, Fugazi, Shellac, Godspeed You! Black Emperor… those noise bands, that ecstatic blast of sound. I think it’s a kind of poetry of ruin, a confrontational experience, working with obliteration but, as you say, in a coherent way. It’s an entirety: of sense experience, of attention, an integrity of devoted art, even as it’s about collapse and entropy. Something erotic, sensate, scary...

It’s about creating your own worlds and finding like-minded communities. There are always communities involved. One that I’m involved in is the underground noise scene, which is a small international one.

In many big cities around the world there’s always the same kind of 30, 40, 50 people that are into it. It’s got nothing to do with money. It’s an attitude, a spirit.

The punk and post-punk scenes are associated with the renegade, the resistant. How does this fit to your evolution as an artist? Was it a process of finding the courage?

Growing up as a wog kid in the suburbs you become resilient early on – and defiant of the dominant order. It’s a refusal, isn’t it?

I think for some it can take a long time and a lot of courage to get to it, to push everything else aside.

Your own work tests the viewer’s engagement; they come for something adrenalised and immersive.

I make work that I want to experience, and hope that along the way it’ll find people who also want to experience it. For example, I have a project called Spectral Arrows in which I set up the equipment (guitar, distortion, lots of amplifiers) with my back to the audience and perform for the entirety of the opening hours of the gallery. I want the sound to be impenetrable, so it’s like a wall. The first hour is always difficult but after that I lose sense of time and that’s when interesting things really begin to happen. It’s a bit like standing in the ocean with the waves crushing you all day: that’s the sensation. You lose sense of time and space and in the end the sound can take you places you hadn’t imagined.

Your Mass Black Implosion series also involves a kind of violence applied to music.

It takes scores by composers who are known for trying to push the language of music. I take their scores, have them reproduced 1:1, then I choose a point arbitrarily on that score, then I rule a line from every single note on that score back to this point, as a proposition for a new composition, and that is: imagine if all those notes were played at once. So it’s essentially a noise piece, all the notes reduced to a moment of singular impact. It’s to do with intensity, bringing all those forces back in on themselves. That’s what I attempt to do when I perform live, trying to harness those forces and create a physical experience. All of a sudden I’m totally consumed by where the sound is taking me. I’ll just let it ride and go with it.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 4, 2021 as "Marco Fusinato".

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Kate Holden is the author of The Winter Road.