Category Archives: call and response / Brian Fuata

notes on calling and responding


Brian Fuata, Call and Response (changing title), invite.

Participation as a way to engage the audience. Participation as a way to activate the audience. Participation as a way to get people to respond, to react, to kick back. Something. Anything.

You call, I respond, you respond. lag. you call, you respond to your own call, I respond to you call before your response, respond. respond. respond. lag. call, respond. call.

I’m making these up from memory. Could the documents be labelled as a ‘call’ or a ‘response’? What would make the distinction?

Active participation. There’s a lot of thought around this idea of an active audience – that somehow looking and being are passive encounters. That thrashing and bashing is active and engaged. Its not really a new topic, it seems we’ve been exploring it for quite some time now. Its a polar opposite I do not like. I side with John Dewey here (I do read literature newer than 1934). I don’t have it in front of me. There is a point that he makes about ‘doing’ and ‘thinking’ together within an experience. Execution and emotion.

I do agree. But I do think the reality is often uncomfortable.

Thoughts on the reality of experiential and participatory forms: If experience and participation are the medium, do they exist if they are ignored? Can they exist if only the artist ever experiences them? Do we need an audience? These are stupid questions. Why did I feel it necessary to make these exchanges, this correspondence, public?

I do not have the answers.

Participation. torture? An artificial hell? A voluntary (in this case yes, but in general…)? A constructed experience where someone else is determining the outcome and it seems like you have a say. Do you? Does anyone even know the rules? Do you need to know them? Can you be engaged if you’re thinking about the rules, or the non-rules? Are those the rules? To think?

But calling and responding. Call and response. Here is a mode of participation where the participant is indeed a co-author. There is a call. There has to be a response. Any kind of response. Without it the artwork falls over. Its ceases. That initial letter – the terms are spelt out. Respond to that and you’re locked in. Participant committed. Artist Committed.

What would Brian have done if I refused to respond for an extended period of time?

Six days was a long time.

The first time it happened there was a nice reminder. Just seeing where you’ve gone? As the 31 exchanges extended far beyond the calendar month, fresh delays were met with increasingly terse replies. A blunt re-forwarding of the same email from six days before hand.


ME TOO! (silent.)

Notes on the emails: the armature of the experience. Part of the process, the side comments, the side of the conversation that has disappeared. The frequency, the timing, mapping the nature of the engagement. There is no number 17, but this doesn’t matter. Its a glitch that I’m quite fond of. The emails discussing this fact could in fact be the fact.

Slowing we are getting nowhere and that is a pleasure.


Call and Response (changing title) #31


Sorry for the silence. For the lags, delays and gaps.

The first six days (or thereabouts) were in fact a silly accident on my behalf. I read
the words ʻI wonʼt be more than two daysʼ and assumed you would indeed be
another 2 days at most, failing to notice the attachment at the bottom of the email.

The last six days of silence were carelessness, frustration, fatigue. Iʼd quite simply
written my way into a crisis and I was in revolt with myself. Art, my own and any
other collaborative project I am currently working on, was something I couldn’t, didn’t
want to face. It sounds melodramatic. It was and there were tears.

I am sorry that it had such an impact, that it came across as a personal affront.

Perhaps “lessons on waiting, still, time” was more a reminder to self to learn to
manage my time better. Iʼve often thought of your repeated suggestions that my
participation in this project wait – to not over-commit, to stress and stretch.

So I am sorry (and thankful in a way) that my stubbornness has stretched this part of
the project.

Thanks, a repeated thanks, a repeated and sincere thanks, for allowing me to participate in this project. It occurred to me that itʼs an intimate form of participation. Iʼm thankful for the thought its opened up for me surrounding the idea – its issues and its tensions.

For me, the experience has been fun and confusing, exciting and frustrating, guilt
inducing and also a guilty pleasure in that it often functioned as a vehicle for my own
experiments and thoughts.

An apology for the dense academic framework I bring with me. It is immersive. But,
thank you for the notes on emotion, emotions as loosening, dumb. It resonated. It
still is. Although I realised that Iʼve laboured over this final piece and in doing so the
emotion has been sucked away – existing of the moments past.

Arthur Russell. Wonderful.

Iʼve been listening to Hope Sandoval quite a bit over the last few days, but Arthur
Russell is playing as I write this sentence.

Perhaps that the project has no point is the point. It is shaped by the engagements
with individual participants, and much like life sometimes this is exciting, burning and
at other points frustrating, boring. Perhaps that is its pleasure.

I hope you are well and I send this with warm regards,


Call and Response (changing title) #30

Sorry Boni for my aggression

I was frustrated with waiting.  I understand you have maybe over-committed, and this project was close to the last thing in your mind.

I have been late and protracted in my life too.  It is a double standard of mine that blackens all the pots and kettles in my head.

But as it is my double standard, six days of silence is hard not to take personally.  I was angrily annoyed by the disregard, the carelessness that I have seen so often in myself.  Be assured that my bark is by far worse then my toothless gummy bite.

I am getting over it, and in affect, have.  There is no point to getting upset over a project that has no point.

I do have to say though the most recent exchanges have been exciting, dynamic even.

The emotional exchange was surprising for that very reason – emotion.  You are very academic which is clever and difficult at times to grasp.  I do not mean this to be passive aggressive but emotions are loosening.  Immediate.  Dumb.  Be dumb for a bit.  See a letter by Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse.

Did you hear Agatha Gothe-Snape’s Emotional Wall fell on Susan Gibb’s head, slicing thirteen stitches across Susan’s brow?  Susan bled all the way to the hospital and Agatha cried in her public explanation.  Their relationship was strained, and so the poetics of the falling wall are beyond ludicrous to the point of stupidity; a “dumbness” that dare I say was exquisite.  One that cannot be orchestrated by equation or exercise, rather propelled by an unconscious ease as to allow emotion and reason to magnify the metaphysical fractal of an objects innate artistic aura, whether it be an actual object or object of performance or its conceptual framing.   I digress.

The Friday just gone, after walking idly around the streets for the entire day, I found myself at a particularly gay bookshop on Oxford Street.

I bought the film Keep the lights on by Ira Sachs, a true story about a 10-year relationship of two guys coping with the devastation of drug addiction and the grace illuminated from its recovery.  The film made quite an impression on me.  The two handsome actors, New York City, life on film and a soundtrack made of pure, and purely of, Arthur Russell songs.

Google him.

I’ve since bought his entire back catalogue.  All in the same day, in the one go.

I’ve been listening to it while writing in the same way I’ve known painters to paint and sculptors to sculpt to music; Arthur’s in my ear now.

I hope this finds you well Boni.  I genuinely thank you for agreeing to participate in this project.  I look forward to your last entry.  Please keep in touch.

Sincere Regards


the newspaper seems permeated with accounts of tactility

march 29-31 #1

The day after The Sydney Morning Herald switched to a ‘compact’ layout was the day I started buying newspapers. I get attached to analogue formats. I’m sure its the tactility of it really.

The image above is the analogue version that marks the start of a text correspondance with artist Brian Fuata as part of his ongoing project Call and Response (Changing Title).