Because they mark the zone where the force is in the process of striking (or, Second Study for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion)


SKU: 200802 Category: Tags: , , ,


instrumentation: trombone
date: 2008
duration: 4’45
details: 6 pages, including performance instructions; A3 landscape

program note

 “The scrubbed and brushed parts of the canvas are, in Bacon, parts of a neutralized organism, restored to their state of zones or levels:  ‘the human visage has not yet found its face.’

 “…it lies at the surface, but it is a material decoration that does not outline a form.  It is a geometry no longer in the service of the essential and eternal, but a geometry in the service of ‘problems’ or ‘accidents’:  ablation, adjunction, projection, intersection.  It is thus a line that never ceases to change direction, that is broken, split, diverted, turned in on itself, coiled up, or even extended beyond its natural limits, dying away in a ‘disordered convulsion’:  there are free marks that extend or arrest the line, acting beneath or beyond representation.

“…the body without organs is not defined by the absence of organs, nor is it defined solely by the existence of an indeterminate organ; it is finally defined by the temporary and provisional presence of determinate organs.  This is one way of introducing time into the painting, and there is a great force of time in Bacon; time itself is being painted.

“Likewise sensation, when it acquires a body through the organism, takes on an excessive and spasmodic appearance, exceeding the bounds of organic activity.

“Certainly music traverses our bodies in profound ways, putting an ear in the stomach, in the lungs, and so on.  It knows all about waves and nervousness.  But it involves our body, and bodies in general, in another element.  It strips bodies of their inertia, of the materiality of their presence:  it disembodies bodies.

 “… this body without organs and these transitory organs are themselves seen, in phenomena known as internal or external ‘autoscopia’:  it is no longer my head, but I feel myself inside a head, I see and I see myself inside a head; or else I do not see myself in the mirror, but I feel myself in the body that I see, and I see myself in this naked body when I am dressed ….”

“When music sets up its sonorous system and its polyvalent organ, the ear, it addresses itself to something very different from the material reality of bodies.  It gives a disembodied and dematerialized body to the most spiritual of entities ….  This is why music does not have hysteria as its clinical essence, but is confronted more and more with a galloping schizophrenia.  To hystericize music we would have to reintroduce colors, passing through a rudimentary or refined system of correspondence between sounds and colors.

“But in escaping, the body discovers the materiality of which it is composed, the pure presence of which it is made, and which it would not discover otherwise.

“It is as if the invisible forces were striking the head from many different angles.  The wiped and swept parts of the face here take on new meaning, because they mark the zone where the force is in the process of striking.  This is why the problems Bacon faces are indeed those of deformation and not transformation.  These are two very different categories.  The transformation of form can be abstract or dynamic.  But deformation is always bodily, and it is static, it happens at one place; it subordinates movement to force, but it also subordinates the abstract to the Figure.  When a force is exerted on a scrubbed part, it does not give birth to an abstract form, nor does it combine sensible forms dynamically:  on the contrary, it turns this zone into a zone of indiscernibility that is common to several forms, irreducible to any of them; and the lines of force that it creates escape every form through their very clarity, through their deforming precision. 

 “Everything is now related to forces, everything is force.  It is force that constitutes deformation as an act of painting:  it lends itself neither to a transformation of form nor to a decomposition of elements.  And Bacon’s deformations are rarely constrained or forced, they are not tortures, despite appearances:  on the contrary, they are the most natural postures of a body that has been reorganized by the simple force being exerted upon it ….”

– extracts from Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon:  The Logic of Sensation

The work is dedicated to Ben Marks, Daryl Buckley and ELISION, and is extracted from the larger work And the scream, Bacon’s scream, is the operation through which the entire body escapes through the mouth (or, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion).



Recorded for NEOS and HCR.


ELISION. Benjamin Marks, trombone. Hanson Dyer Hall, Southbank Centre, Melbourne, April 14, 2021. Because they mark the zone where the force is in the process of striking 

Weston Olencki, trombone. Florida Contemporary Music Festival, Gainesville, USA. February 15, 2018.

Benjamin Marks, trombone (ELISION). Big Medium Gallery, Austin, Texas, October 24, 2017. (Performed as a set with  songs only as sad as their listener.)

Stephen Menotti, trombone. Spielhalle of Musikerwohnhaus, Basel, Switzerland. May 30, 2015.

Stephen Menotti, trombone. Musikhochschule Mannheim, Hans-Vogt-Saal, Germany. May 29, 2015.

Stephen Menotti, trombone. University of Huddersfield, UK. February 5, 2015.

Weston Olencki, trombone. permutations011415, Theatre of Yugen, San Francisco, California. January 14, 2015.

Weston Olencki, trombone. Constellation, Chicago, Illinois. July 27, 2014.

Weston Olencki, trombone. Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. June 8, 2014.

Ben Marks, trombone (ELISION). CCRMA, Stanford University. May 24, 2014.

Ben Marks, trombone.  Queensland Conservatorium South Bank, Brisbane, Australia.  March 5, 2014.

Kevin Fairbairn, trombone.  Wooster Center, Bowling Green State University.  April 14, 2012.

ELISION (Ben Marks, trombone), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Huddersfield, UK.  November 26, 2009.

You may also like…