Guitar God

Upstairs, above Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, there are a lot of studios.  In Studio 12 Matthew Shannon was showing an installation: Infinity of Wind Muskets.

So there I am, alone standing in the doorway of the studio looking at a neatly written and beautifully presented and framed play list. When I was in a band a play list was written on a scrap of paper and gaffer taped somewhere. Matthew Shannon’s play list looked heavy on heavy metal but further down the list there was a few of my favorites – Bowie, Eno, Jesus and Mary Chain.

In the centre of the room on a small podium or plinth was an electric guitar. The podium was splashed with white paint reminding me of the film of Pattie Smith painting a television with white paint that I had just seen at the Centre for Contemporary Photography.

Surrounding the guitar, hung from the ceiling in odd positions were some flashing floodlights. Some of them were flashing but mostly the room was dark. This is because some of the lights were not on. I wondered if the installation was interactive and if the guitar was plugged into an amplifier somewhere. I decided to approach the guitar and then to tap on the strings.

Is Shannon tempting the viewer with the bright lights and the guitar? What more could we want than to be a guitar hero? The ecstatic shamanic performance of the guitar-hero is a step to deification. Rock’n’roll is the new religion and art must portray what is holy to us.

I plucked on the E string and watched the lights flash with greater intensity. The intense flashing lights were beginning to hurt my eyes but I persisted. The more I plucked at the strings the more lights came on. I considered picking the guitar up off its stand and playing one of the songs from the play list. Should I take over Shannon’s installation with my own rockin’ performance? Would all the lights flash as I struck a power-cord. But can’t play guitar – I play keyboards.

About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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