And it stoned me
October 22, 2019 5:27 AM   Subscribe

Stones/Water/Time/Breath is a participatory sound art piece composed you can perform anywhere there is a body of water. Composed by experimental musician Dean Rosenthal.
posted by Miko (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Did he compose it, if people have been doing this before he wrote it down?
posted by timdiggerm at 5:45 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Just congratulating you on the brilliant choice for title of the post.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:48 AM on October 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Discordians did it first (and better).

Considering that $400k will buy you a stone, outside Martha's Vineyard proper, I'm inclined to file this under "over-privileged wanking". On the same level as the Hawaiian shirt guy. Just with more squeaky and it out of tune violins.

It's not that this isn't art, but that... 4'33" was ages ago. This "piece" brings nothing new to the table. Except now he is the dubious composer of a song humanity had been playing for as long as there have been rocks and ponds to throw them into.

It feels very ham handed to me.
posted by jonnay at 6:56 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Considering that $400k will buy you a stone, outside Martha's Vineyard proper, I'm inclined to file this under "over-privileged wanking". On the same level as the Hawaiian shirt guy. Just with more squeaky and it out of tune violins.

Did....did you actually read what's at the link?

There is nothing in the piece that specifies that you have to use any specific kind of stone, or that you have to be near any specific body of water. Also violins are not involved at all. You're correct that "humanity has been playing this for as long as there have been rocks and ponds to throw them into", but he is not presenting himself as the "composer" as in "no one has ever done this until I thought it up". That's kind of the point of this kind of art piece, where the "art" is the actual experience of doing something that you've probably done before but maybe haven't done in a while so why not give yourself a bit of a break and do it right now for a while.

Call it "over privileged wanking" if you like, but at least be accurate about what it is as you snub it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on October 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


Did....did you actually read what's at the link?

Yeah. All about how the artist is a resident at Marthas Vineyard, and even listened to some of his other squeaky violin music so I could get a sense of what he was trying to say with this statement.

There is nothing in the piece that specifies that you have to use any specific kind of stone, or that you have to be near any specific body of water.

That's not what I was saying at all. I was instead researching the cost of real-estate in and around Martha's Vinyard and found that rock on a real estate site and—well—it was too perfect.

He does take pains to call it a "score", which in our system of late stage capitalism implies ownership over a given piece of music. I mean, doesn't that mean he gets songwriting credit?

I mean, all that is really said in "About the Piece" is just how great it is, not about what it actually means.

So yeah. I took pains to make sure about being accurate about what I am snubbing.
posted by jonnay at 7:41 AM on October 22, 2019


Nice going, Charlie Brown. It took that rock 4,000 years to get to shore, and now you've thrown it back.
posted by otherchaz at 7:49 AM on October 22, 2019 [5 favorites]


Y'all I just composed an experimental art piece, life-changing! It can be performed in any bathroom, it's best as a solo performance, but I'm just the composer so you can play it with as many people who are willing. I'll do a full write up later but all you need to start is a small room with a toilet and some undigestibles stored up.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


The score could hardly be simpler. (4'33'' excepted, of course.) But the composer uses the word "tuplets," whose meaning is pretty easily guessed, but it's a word I've never heard. And I've taken music theory classes. Not at Julliard, though. Ya gotta weed out the hoi polloi for this piece, I guess.

There is a YT video called "Tuplets: I'ts Complicated." It uses the phrase "It's tuplets all the way down." Performing this piece near Denver? Include me out.

Vanuatu women making water-slapping music? Count me in. They look happier than the presumably stone-faced people performing the Dean Rosenthal composition.
posted by kozad at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


As a trained musician and composer, I may have just strained an optic nerve by rolling my eyes too hard.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:26 AM on October 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm also reminded of the newscaster from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who says, "And for everyone else, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys."
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:30 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


I like this sort of conceptual art.

But there's a real sense in which the score and its presentation are the piece — more so than the performance itself, especially now, when we've been seeing performances like this for decades and the mere sight of someone mucking around in the water for an audience is no longer startling.

And the presentation here is pretty off-putting. It's supported by a grant? The funding org's logo is taking up space even on the tiny, pocket-sized version of the score? You can officially register your performance?

Either this is a really deadpan parody of cultural organizations getting their claws into spontaneous, fun activities (in which case hell yeah, dude, solid work), or it's an example of it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:12 AM on October 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


Step 5 is where this piece diverges from the standard historical practice: No speaking.
posted by achrise at 10:01 AM on October 22, 2019


As somebody who has been making all kinds of rhythmic and variously pitched and timbred splashes, splots, baTHOOMs, kaplippetty plippetty plipppety plip plips and kerplunks at every swimming hole and under every river and creek bridge I've ever been to since approximately forever, I'ma send this dude a DMCA takedown notice.
posted by flabdablet at 10:41 AM on October 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have certainly performed this score many times. Seeing it written down made me think about the process of naming an action, or inaction, that one often does without any labels, indeed without any thought. Then I lost the game.
posted by TreeRooster at 11:51 AM on October 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


flabdablet's comment is, itself, a composition.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:04 PM on October 22, 2019


I could certainly see why a person would hate this if that's the kind of thing they like to do. At the same time, I also like the idea of throwing rocks in the water in a formal and intentional way, and feeling like a larger part of a thing while doing it. I think it could be a nice, small ritual to include in a camping experience or a retreat.

The idea of an art piece being instructions is not new, no one's claiming that. This is basically a Fluxus inspired thing. And yes, the very easiest thing to do when confronted with shit like this is to call bullshit. Fine, fair. The harder thing to do, the intent behind it, is the invitation to see if there is some sense, meaning, or emotional impact you can derive from it.
posted by Miko at 12:38 PM on October 22, 2019 [8 favorites]


Thanks for posting, Miko. I like this and agree with your thoughts above regarding critiques of the piece itself, which I find alluring if not entirely novel. A few weeks back, my boyfriend and I found a nook in a nearbyish park that's perfect for meditative time; we've already returned once with books of poems, calming ourselves with alternating readings while pelicans and loons do their afternoon hunting in the adjacent tidal waterway. I'll make this our next lil' secret space project and look forward to shooting the resulting recording to Rosenthal (and maybe MeFi Music?). Life as art and art as life? I'm always on board for that.
posted by youarenothere at 12:49 PM on October 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


I just have this as a birthday present and it was extremely well received. Specifically I gave them the printout and us performing it later.
posted by odinsdream at 8:40 PM on October 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


To me what this is, is, a delightful suggestion to get some friends together -- or go alone for a different kind of experience I suppose -- and spend some time throwing rocks in the water, and listening to the sounds you make, and comparing them to music or seeing what it feels like to think of them as music. This suggestion is made, amusingly, with some of the language and framing we associate with high art, but the harsh criticism here of the "artist" seems off-base to me. To me there's an evident undertone of camp or arch silliness to the whole thing that feels intentional; I don't think they're taking the whole thing nearly as seriously as some of the commentors above have. The suggestors put the suggestion out for free, and don't in any way compel us to acknowledge or even remember who they are. I know for me, this is an idea I'll roll about fondly in my head for a while, maybe getting the impetus together to finally make it happen or maybe not, but I've already (by the end of this paragraph) forgotten everything else about the framing besides the essential idea, and I feel like the suggestors would be fine with that.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 9:14 PM on October 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


flabdablet's comment is, itself, a composition

You have my express permission to perform, modify, extend and/or improve it at any time without any requirement for payment, registration, notification or attribution, with or without vocal accompaniment, provided only that you give the same permission to your own audience.
posted by flabdablet at 11:15 PM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


My guy and I did a performance of the piece yesterday, which I have uploaded to MeFi Music. We nestled into a old fountain on the grounds of Villa Vizcaya in Miami and spent six lovely minutes creating our symphony of small stones while tourists milled about the formal gardens. We love bodies of water--like I literally made him a photo book of all our water experiences earlier this year--and it felt like a meaningful addition to our collection of memories, adventures, trips and times regarding this great wet stuff of earth.
posted by youarenothere at 8:01 AM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


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