The Symphonic Juncture

A [Symphonist]: "The one who is not afraid to raise the primal force."

- Boris Asafiev (1917)

Lessons from junk and motors; Petr Valek and his noise.

What can a junk-bricolage, found-art installation + ‘neo-Aleatoric’ performance piece [undetermined results based on action taken by a non-human agent], supplied with nothing more than a title for symbological clarity, tell a viewer about the way political instability is hermeneutically expressed through the creator’s perspective? Does the politically conscious artist, channeler of an unrestrained commitment to lay prostrate at the feet of life and divulge themselves with feelings unencumbered, use symbology to make their message purposefully obscure, difficult to ascertain quickly, or even practically inaccessible without dedicated, cognitive exertion on the part of the observer? There can be no definite answer, but I am prone to believe that an artist cryptically encodes within his choice medium his elan Vitale, his instinctive impulse to externally manifest, precisely because to the conduit [artist], the world in which he inhabits is far removed from the stationary, monolinear reality to which the ‘mundane race’ inhabits. In order to ‘decode’ the inferred significance of an abstruse or vague work with little by way of attached description, the observer must strive to look past the edifice of superficiality which seeks to distract the intelligence with petty pleasure and instead position themselves as contextual investigators. Meaning, becoming an observer who is dedicated to actively participating in the process of artistic manifestation just as much as the Composer or the performer had/is, completing a pre-ontological chain of events where one action ruptures the ossified fabric of materiality, thus paving the way for its next iteration. This comprehensive, symbiotic disposition of Composer as Performer as Listener [as Composer, etc.] is plainly articulated by Soviet Musicologist Boris Asafiev regarding the musical process, “Three aspects of musical creation are incarnation, reproduction, and observation” (Viljanen, 2016).

So, when I initially watched the installation video, because of the title’s deliberately sardonic quality, I was able to disrupt and negate my initial assumptions of the rather crude and makeshift display and engage in what Husserl calls ‘image consciousness’ or ‘seeing-in,’ a process by which the viewer bypasses the literal and participates in the internalized metaphysical, a “suppressed perception of the image’s material support and an explicit perceptual presentation of the image object itself” (Brough, 2005). However, riding on the sagacious convictions of the unremittant questioner of life’s incongruities Lev Tolstoy sourced from ‘What is Art,’ his seminal treatise on art’s constitution, “good art is intelligible and comprehensible. Bad art is unintelligible and incomprehensible” (Scott, 2002), this provocative statement only partly agreed with by myself but none of the less worth briefly expanding as it points to a necessary polemic to understand before migrating into the crux of this post. What Tolstoy is positing is that ‘good art,’ perhaps better understood as ‘impactful expressions of creativity as ‘art’ here is being used to describe all creative art forms [music, literature, dance, etc.], holds the capability of psychosomatically ‘speaking’ to all classes and creeds regardless of the crowd’s intellectual aptitude prior to experiential assemblage through a creator’s concerted effort to embody ‘sincerity.’ I completely reject this viewpoint as not everyone is actually capable of wading through the banal immediate for the Promethean latent nor even committing themselves to mustering up the energy to attemptively try. In fact, notable Scholars and Composers like Hanslick(1854), Schoen-Nazzaro/Plato(1978), Asafiev(1918 forward), and even Copeland(1988) all point to this truth. That ‘hearing’ [or intuitively seeing] requires a concentrated effort that must extend beyond simple first and second-stage, empirical conditioning [1) literal seeing, 2) consequent feeling] to which most of us have come to rely on to answer the question of ‘what does this mean?’ Frankly put, the fact that you experienced X means nothing, as it is about the intellectual cogency applied to the X in deciphering its variegated, semiological layers that actually matters.

The wildly creative revolutionary, described as a ‘bizarre noise musician and crazy inventor’ Petr Válek in 2020 showcased the exhibitionist piece, ostensibly formed without a name, only donning its title through external influence, ‘The Work of Our Government,’ in a Russian translation ‘Работа нашего правительства.’ Since the version I bore witness to featured the title, albeit in a shared interpretation, this cacophonic mixture of man-made objects in various stages of dilapidation, in my opinion, showcases the absolute incompetence and futile pandemonium engaged in and caused by the reigning Russian government as led by ‘The Father of Russia Vladimir Putin. Originally featured on the Czech artist’s Instagram page in March of last year, the largest of the three automated noise-machines being featured alone noisomely gyrating its broken-in appendages as if beseeching the viewer to end its mechanical suffering, it was at some point ostensibly shared to the musician’s Facebook and subsequently uploaded onto Twitter for the first time somewhere from March to December, an original upload by a user called @[check tweet for name] being upload on December 27th of 2020 [tweet