23 September 2009


LVB9 © 2009 Wayne Roberts, 242 cm (w) x 204 cm (h) x 172 cm (d)
3-D work on two doors and black woollen stretched textile.
Two Doors: Mixed media: CD-collage, oxides, detritus, mixed aqueous paints, acrylic media, water, inks, applied with aged implements. Intaglio lineation. Black woollen textile on stretcher frame with titanium, internal lighting.
10 CDs in triangular formation (top right). This area has embedded stereo-sound-responsive Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
Inspired by:
Ludwig van Beethoven's final symphony, The Ninth.

The 9th symphony of Beethoven is arguably one of the greatest symphonies ever written.
Most will know Beethoven was completely deaf when he composed this monumental work.
That he was a genius is unquestionable, and it could almost be said, he virtually 'owned' the genre of the symphony (at least in the Classical and embryonic Romantic Periods). It's remarkable that four, maybe five, of his nine symphonies are among the most loved symphonies even to this day.

The 9th was without doubt a pivotal work. A landmark piece in the history of music. Many composers who followed were inspired or influenced by it. It was even influential in determining the diameter of CDs at 12cm in the early 1980s. (At that time, it was decided that a CD should be able to fit an entire performance of Beethoven's 9th on a single CD. The longest recording of Beethoven's 9th was found (an old mono, approx 78mins), and that became the benchmark, hence 12cm. [The story has some interesting twists and turns, but that's the gist of it.]

The earlier movements, often with passages of agitation, seem to reflect his battle against the deafness that had gradually and relentlessly overtaken him. The last movement is in stark contrast to the earlier ones. In the final movement, he ever so serenely introduces the main theme of the final movement, via an unornamented beautiful melody, on strings and subdued orchestra. This theme builds rather steeply (and dramatically) to usher in the finale, including parts for four vocal soloists, and large choir. (It is the first symphony to employ the human voice as a virtual instrument.)

Beethoven couldn't conduct the premiere of his Symphony No 9 (May 7, 1824) due to his profound deafness. Yet he was by the conductor's side following the score, and reportedly quite animated. Story has it that he was a couple of bars behind when the work ended to rapturous applause and ovations. The deaf Beethoven had to be physically turned around by one of the vocal soloists so that he could "see" the applause. He received fully five standing ovations (which was considered disrespectful of the royals, because only royalty were deemed worthy enough of receiving up to a maximum of three ovations.) Beethoven eventually left the hall after the tumultuous reception, and was reportedly deeply overcome with emotion.

Ludwig van Beethoven died during a thunderstorm on 26 March 1827. "His friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who was present at the time, claimed that there was a peal of thunder at the moment of death" (Wikipedia).


David Burge said...

Well, for a start I hope thunderstorms are not predicted for Canberra any time soon.

This is also a "monumental work" Wayne. One can only begin to appreciate the years of thought and research that are reflected from and within this amazing artwork.
It is startling visually, but that is a mere starting point, a portal. I love it's wired up, enlivened earth look, an alien melding of elements and super-elements. As Beethoven created his greatest aural creation without hearing it, this multi-dimensional form has sprung from the primordial ocean which is the sum of your intellect. It could have been equally as successful if you'd created it blind.
Man is thus emancipated from the frozen claws of the senses.
This is awesome!

Nick said...

I periodically go through a Beethoven symphony immersion, and your posts have caused me to sign up again - this time with your images and ideas in mind. I don't even know them by the numbers, I have started hearing them as all one work. While not a new revelation by any stretch, I do think the 5th's opening movement might be the most perfect thing ever composed. I'm going to put the 9th on right now.
While not pretending to be able to keep up with your theories here, I'm interested and not surprised that you express this in a way that looks contemporary, but it maybe more timeless in its connection with the infinite. How many think in terms of a period (ie., "Baroque, Classical, Romantic" etc) when confronted with great artistic triumphs of history, but you see the universality of it all. PON.
I'm interested in the blue lines - they look phorphorescent (black light?), but also do they describe the theme or its variations?
When a certain music-fanatic friend of mine compare artists and great musical achievements, we usually end up asking ourselves things such as is the BEST Pink Floyd (or Pat Metheny, Tommy B, Coltrane, Beatles, et al) as good as Beethoven? Is it possible to answer that? Sorry, rambling on.

perugina said...

The LVB9
i can only begin my comment by echoing what David has appropriately and fittingly called ‘a monumental work’ – for it is such!
i apologise for my shortcomings here, for i am at a loss for my own words Wayne.
I also echo David’s words,
”One can only begin to appreciate the years of thought and research that are reflected from and within this amazing artwork.” and ”it is a portal”

One can only imagine what it would be like to stand before the LVB9, and such would say even privileged to be in its presence – one perhaps feeling as if they themselves to be ‘struck by lightening’.
To feel its texture, see its colour and sense its energy is something I would imagine not easily forgotten.
Un vero capolavoro in ogni senso.

Again my apologies for not being able to leave words of my own.. in reading both comments here i believe 'the boys above’ who are far more intelligent and articulate than i will ever be have said it beautifully.. Nick’s words especially..

you Wayne see the universality of it all.

May la stellata meravigliosa always watch over you and guide you.

wayne said...

Hi David,
Thank you for your enthusiasm!!
The work is, as you say, "wired up", and i feel it looks its luminous best at night.

Speaking of thunderstorms, at one stage in the composition of this piece, i intentionally left the artwork (nearly completed) outdoors all night. Two hours later there was a massive thunderstorm. I was tempted to rescue it (since by this time it was quite 'precious') but decided the elements were apt to a piece inspired by Beethoven! The thunderstorm's effects on the unprotected artwork would have to await the light of day. Fortunately, although the work had changed, it was in an irregularly regular and modulated way..

wayne said...

David.. (additional info re my comment).. The artwork doors were exposed to the night (all night), to rain, to full sun, to partial shade, and to almost full shade. Actually, regarding the thunderstorm, i distinctly remember the electrical storm hitting and my leaving the door panels out there.. i think all night. But maybe I did rescue them after a while (as the storm was quite wild) ...I do recall feeling pretty anxious about how the artwork would stand up to the onslaught of the storm! Some of my memories (such as this repetitive exposure of the artwork to the elements) seem to be confluent and intermingled in my mind, perhaps mainly because these processes underwent random permutations, and the composition spanned more than three months. But the artwork was certainly fully exposed to a thunderstorm! And quite heavy rain certainly came down on it, saturating it.
PS Yes, in Beethoven "Man is thus emancipated from the frozen claws of the senses." David you sure know how to write!! and paint! and... and..
Thank you for kind words which mean a lot to me coming from someone such as you.

wayne said...

Hi Nick, many thanks for your very kind comment here and apologies for my delay in reply

It's funny you should mention Beethoven's 5th and the first movement, since that is the very first formal exposure I had to the symphony (in an elective music class in high school). I remember the day vividly. Even the lunch-hour after-the-hour our teacher had 'transported us' through time and space my mind was abuzz with 'that motif'—she was the best music teacher I have ever had. That 5.1 theme is, i agree, almost without peer. It was, and remains, a pioneering work. It paid tribute to Bach and the contrapuntal form amongst others, with a kind of spare density (if that makes any sense!)

Regarding 'Periods' (ugh) , ..yes we have discussed these before, hard-edged stereotypes, later reflected in the preo-occumeo form in which one tries to 'own' what is already one's own ownedness. It was all perfectly logical in the past. But hopefully now in the 21st C we're beginning to find common ground and interconnections.

Re the "black light" you're spot on. The black light phosphoresces the whites and looks quite luminous by night. It's barely visible by day. There is no direct connection to major themes in the arrangement of the white lines but there is to Schiller's-principle. Also, the white lines do allegorically relate to certain principles of the 9th, symphonically.

The CDs and their arrangement definitely have a number of connections to the 9th. (See post above).

Thanks Nick for your kind comment here, and for so much support over (now) years, and for taking the initiative in writing such very kind words on my behalf for the current issue of the French Watercolour magazine (and, btw far too self-effacing as anyone who is familiar with your work will know!)

Note to other readers: Please check out Nicholas’s stunning art AND music on his blog at http://nicholassimmons.blogspot.com, and his website at www.nicholassimmons.com

wayne said...

Hi PG!
Your kind Italian words "una stellata meravigliosa" (a starry marvel) have stayed with me ever since the beginning of this year 2009, and in fact those words were in the very first comment I received for the new year (on my brief composition for orchestra) Earth Circle

Approximately in synchrony with that as you know, in January, I began working on LVB9. The fact that you saw something quite special in that earlier brief orchestral work (Earth Circle), and the way you expressed this in Italian, meant so much: my work had 'connected with someone': you. Earth Circle is a musical focal point. The lens of your mind resolved that focus very keenly.

This current work, LVB9, followed on from Earth Circle (as you know), and again, you have demonstrated great intuition in how you interpret the work. You are far too modest in comparing your writing with Nick and David. None of us can include in our comments the eloquence of the Italian language as can you!

As I think i mentioned in an earlier comment on LVB9 (and as you know), this work took more than three months to complete. (In fact i was working on it last month as well) It is appropriate that I acknowledge your special encouragement provided since before Earth Circle, but especially since EC, and right through this piece LVB9, and beyond. Even suggesting (via a chat without visuals!) at one critical point in the composition of LVB9, and via your keen intuition and imagination, that I take the work in a more 3-dimensional direction! For the benefit of other readers here, essentially I had envisaged the doors separated (or rather more like sliding doors) with a star-field on black velvet revealed between. I hadn't figured it all out and things were developing intuitively from one stage to another, often with umpteen modifications in between when, in the midst of this, PG, you intuitively and immediately imagined the work with the doors opened (as on hinges, or hinged, at an angle). Yes, I could immediately see that that would be more resonant with the feeling i was trying to develop in the artwork. At first I wondered how I could get the star-field depth to look convincing as a portal, especially if the top were open, and if light would then enter into the darkness behind, spoiling the 'portal', or 'door effect'. In essence, it meant that the space behind the doors would have to be a virtual darkroom. There was also the problem that a largish work protruding from the wall would not even fit that well in our relatively small lounge room. Hmm, I thought quite a while, then had a break through: a corner installation, doors still angled, but with the doors opening inwards to reveal a covered corner portal. The criss-cross connectedness and lighting came later. Then the LED lighting last.

PG in many respects you unlocked the doors at a key turning point, helping me to visualise and then transform the work from a more 2D to a more 3D form, and, towards a greater sense of a portal apt to LVB's great 9th, towards "una stellata meravigliosa"!

Grazie, dal cuore,

PS: two Cancerians ... same wavelength

PG (la Perugina)

Nick said...

It's reassuring to learn (thru your post to Patricia) that you actually struggle with the logistics of creating earthbound art, even the kind that appears to fly

wayne said...

Hi Nick,
It's a good point you make. For me, it seems a struggle with almost all my work! Some of it goes 'flap flap flap', and never gets off the ground. Others 'take off' even before I've retracted the flaps.
I often talk about connectedness, and, in that spirit, I would also like to acknowledge and thank you Nick: you have played a very significant part in inspiring this work, particularly regarding the high principle of interconnectedness. Completing the circle, that principle resounds in Schiller's poem and in Beethoven's 9th symphony.

Numerous forms of interconnectedness suffuse your art. I perceive many of these as abstract or conceptual in form, and more powerful because of it! (See Nicholas's blog to survey some of his art and music. Nicholas has won many recent awards for his art, Nicholas's blog http://nicholassimmons.blogspot.com or web site www.nicholassimmons.com.) What you write (e.g. around the blogs, and in the art journals) is well-informed, challenging yet accessible, humble, often finding interesting bridges linking artists, ideas, history, and with new takes and angles on almost any topic! Your simultaneous successes in both music and art, and the feeling I gain of music in your art and of art in your music, has, I know, inspired at a core level, many works of mine, including the LVB9 piece.

Getting back to your comment re: "struggle",
Beethoven certainly struggled enormously with his deafness. That cannot be understated. But it's probably less known that he struggled enormously with the final movement of the 9th, in particular, to figure out and settle upon the now-famous theme he put to the words of Schiller's Ode to Joy. The tune is so incredibly simple on the face of it: virtually consisting of stepping notes of equal measure. Yet through such a simplicity is wrought a complex powerful anthem that stirs the soul and, it seems, the Universe itself.
cheers & best wishes

wayne said...

Nick.. I forgot to mention..
The fact that you've had a strong sense of what my PON (Principles of Nature) work 'is about' has meant a ton to me. Also the fact that you've mentioned and referred people to PON in numerous posts/comments and workshops is beyond my repeated attempts at adequate words of thanks. There are very few people thus far who seem to get the gist of PON (unless they're all lying low lol!) but you are one of the few who 'gets it'!! (David's another who seems to grasp key principles of PON.)

Also, regarding your relevant comment on the post above( with the 9><10CDs), the triangular CD formation is a critical key (if not the key) to the meaning of the composition, a portal that perhaps does not look exactly like a portal. It relates directly to the PON work. Therefore your steadfast encouragement and 'backing' of my theory work in PON since soon after I published an abridged version of the book to the web, has certainly been a vital factor in getting me across the finish line in LVB9.
Sincerest thanks

PS Best wishes for your European tour!! The fans await ...and rightly so!!