"A Crossing Bell" was reworked for the "What Has To Be Done" group show at the Today Art Museum, Beijing. Rather than the Essex vernacular architecture-inspired original at the Estuary Festival, for the Today Art Museum in 2017, the work takes on another local meaning, this time using a temple bell sourced in Beijing with red painted wood and columns and cross-bars I remember from when I once visited the Lama / Yonge Temple.
“Ancient Chinese acoustics long ago recognised that there was sound beyond human hearing. Touching bells when sound had disappeared still yielded tactile perception of vibrations,” Don Ihde Listening And Voice.
“[T]he emotional power of the tocsin in such circumstances transcended that of any other source of information,” Alain Corbin Village Bells.
“Into The Outside”, a film collaboration between myself and Chiara Caterina, made in Southern Italy as part of the Liminaria Residency programme, has been short-listed for the Swedenborg Film Festival prize. The title of the film echoes a quotation from Georges Bataille - "Here darkness is not the absence of light (of sound) but absorption into the outside” - and announces its exploration of the nocturnal that is also evoked in a blog post I wrote while on the residency: "Night insects draw to my headtorch and to Guiliano’s LED light. Bubbles, scrapes and chinks for my hydrophone trawl; a crab clicks over a flat rock. Water creatures in the depths under the bridge – Raffeale captures their energies in a way I could not. Birdsong strange in the moon’s soft grey; Chiara submerges one camera and aims another to the far shore. Franco talks of the purposes of night. Five foxes on the way home; at the farm, one screams for 10 minutes then – my recorder now on – nientefor the half an hour til I fall asleep standing up”.
The festival is on 26th of November, 2016.
A Crossing Bell was an installation for the Estuary Festival 2016 Points of Departure exhibition. Originally commissioned as a response to the Gravesend-Tilbury foot ferry, the work was eventually located at the point where passengers are about to join the boat or have just arrived from it, the bell hanging in a structure designed to echo elements of Essex coastal architecture and constructed from planks that once were part of Southend Pier.
Photos: Benedict Johnson benedictjohnson.com
From the exhibition interpretation text: "Installed near the Tilbury ferry within a custom-built wooden shelter that offers views over the wide river, the engraved bell is there to be rung by passengers and festival-goers as they offer their prayers for a crossing (their own or someone else’s, a friend’s or a stranger’s, a crossing here at the Thames or one that lies further afield). The aspiration is that the bell transform the short journey on the openness of the swift-flowing river and suggest other crossings, other times and other places; its un-amplified peals finding their place amongst engine noise, the cries of white feathered gulls, voices and the soundings of the Thames itself".
'Night Time', the film Chiara Caterina and I made during the Liminaria residency earlier this year - a film which is a prototype for 'Into The Outside' - was shown at an exhibition in the Museo degli Orologi da Torre in San Marco dei Cavoti, Southern Italy. The other artists from the residency were Hong-Kai Wang, Enrico Coniglio and Alejandro Cornejo Monitbeller.
The second instalment of our Dark Mountains trilogy, here are some screen grabs from Chiara Caterina's and my new film, made on the Liminaria residency in the Fortore region and premiered in the Museo Degli Orologi da Torre at San Marco Dei Cavotti. Now back home, I realise that elements of what we were listening to, seeing and thinking of resonate with some of the themes from my "I See A Darkness" essay from 2002.
Some posts describing Chiara's and my work in the Fortore region are up on the Liminaria Blog here. One written last night:
June 4, 0152, Agriturismo Fattoria Giada
Night insects draw to my headtorch and to Guiliano’s LED light. Bubbles, scrapes and chinks for my hydrophone trawl; a crab clicks over a flat rock. Water creatures in the depths under the bridge – Raffeale captures their energies in a way I could not. Birdsong strange in the moon’s soft grey; Chiara submerges one camera and aims another to the far shore. Franco talks of the purposes of night. Five foxes on the way home; at the farm, one screams for 10 minutes then – my recorder now on – niente for the half an hour til I fall asleep standing up.
Reading Eugene Thacker's In The Dust of This Planet and came across this Bataille quote I'd not heard before: "Here darkness is not the absence of light (of sound) but absorbtion into the outside." Written in a different context yet this still resonates with our project over these short days.
Chiara Caterina and I have been invited to the Liminaria Festival in Fortore, Italy. We will be working on a new film together, responding to the festival's theme of #unmappingtime, "How is possible to deal with the cultures, communities and landscapes of rural world(s) in a contemporary perspective, through rethinking the concept of temporality and raising questions on the discourses that are framing rural areas as leftover and marginal appendices of modernity?".