Carried Bells is a process-based work, in which sounds and images of a series of twenty ringing bells are recorded in an urban environment. These recordings are then carried on foot, in a repeating daily task, to a central installation, which adds one recording each day over the course of the presentation of the work.
Carried Bells harvests traces from the city — exploring acoustic phenomena, social history, and the potential of public space. The incrementally-accumulating installation that emerges allows these individual recordings of particular bells to accrete and combine in unpredictable ways. The work aims to bring the bells of the city out of the backgrounds of our attention, to recontextualise them, and to re-imagine them.
The text given here below about Carried Bells is excerpted from an artist talk about the work given at Ponderosa, Stolzenhagen, in August 2019. The full talk is available on Medium.
Bells are ceremonial objects, calling together communities, marking events, and communicating information both religious and secular. Alongside this, bells are a sonic trace of technological history — the ringing of bells in a peal is a mathematical process, and a direct antecedent to algorithmic programming. Bells shape architecture, and are shaped by it — they are part of the built environment of the city, yet their presence is ephemeral and transient, refracted off streets and surfaces. Bells are a marker of time, and their development presaged the necessity for accurate timekeeping that accompanied the rise of industrial capitalism. The development of bell-making mirrors the history of industrialised weaponry — the processes required to forge a bell or a cannon are almost identical. Conversely, bells have also often been melted down during wartime in order to be recycled into weapons — most recently throughout Berlin during the second world war. Carried Bells is informed by each of these aspects, while emphasising the corresponding history of bells as musical instruments, going back thousands of years around the world. Carried Bells is also a work structured by walking — an act which, like bell-ringing, can be both sacred and ordinary. Walking and carrying are symbolically associated with pilgrimage and ritual, but are also mundane facts of being present in a community and in an environment.
The first presentation of Carried Bells was at Hošek Contemporary, Berlin, in October 2019. This is a unique space housed on a repurposed cargo barge in the river Spree, and the work was presented in this environment from October 5. to 25., growing and developing over the course of its presentation with the addition of sounds and images of one bell each day, gleaned from throughout the city of Berlin. The details of the daily task of walking and carrying that was undertaken are outlined below.
Carried Bells schedule
|Sat, 5. October||Berliner Dom, Mitte|
Three bells — the oldest cast in 1532 by Hinrik van Kampen.
|Sun, 6. October||Bekenntniskirche, Treptow|
Two bells, dating from the 1930s, in two separate towers, in a city church that is built into the terrace facade of the street.
|Mon, 7. October||Johanneskirche, Zehlendorf|
The bell in the Johanneskirche is the oldest actively-used bell in Berlin, and is estimated to date to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century CE.
|Tues, 8. October||St. Josef, Weißensee|
Three bells, cast in 1898, at the same time as the construction of the building.
|Wed, 9. October||Paul-Gerhardt-Kirche, Schöneberg|
The bells are in a tower built in 1962, which replaced an earlier building destroyed in the second world war. It stands directly opposite the thirteenth-century building of the Dorfkirche Schöneberg.
|Thu, 10. October||Dorfkirche Wittenau|
A peal of four bells, the earliest from 1484, the most recent from 1964.
|Fri, 11. October||Herz-Jesu-Kirche, Prenzlauer Berg|
Single bell, dating from 1898.
|Sat, 12. October||St.-Adalbert-Kirche, Mitte|
Single bell dating from the early 1930s.
|Sun, 13. October||St. Laurentius, Hansaviertel|
Set of three bells, in open modernist tower.
|Mon, 14. October||Dorfkirche Stralau, Alt-Stralau|
Three bells — two cast in 1850 by Glockengießerei Schilling, Apolda; one cast in 1545 by Andreas Kepfel.
|Tue, 15. October||Dorfkirche Marzahn|
Three bells, the oldest from 1660, cast in Berlin.
|Wed, 16. October||Alte Pfarrkirche Lichtenberg|
Peal of three bells, the earliest from the mid-fifteenth century.
|Thu, 17. October||Dorfkirche Buckow, Alt-Buckow|
Bells from mid-1300s.
|Fri, 18. October||St.-Simeon-Kirche, Kreuzberg|
Peal of three bells from 1897, which had been at risk of being melted down during the second world war, but were ultimately spared.
|Sat, 19. October||St. Aloysius, Wedding|
Four bells, cast in 1958 from crucible steel by Bochumer Verein.
|Sun, 20. October||Kapelle der Versöhnung, Mitte|
The three bells at the Kapelle der Versöhnung (Chapel of Reconciliation) are from the 1890s, and were integrated into the modern chapel in 2000. They were previously installed in the Versöhnungskirche, which stood on the site before it was demolished in 1985.
|Mon, 21. October||Maria Regina Martyrum, Charlottenburg-Nord|
Peal of five bells, in a stark modernist tower built in the early 1960s.
|Tue, 22. October||Genezarethkirche|
Three bells, originally installed in 1904 in a belfry tower. The tower was demolished in 1947 on the orders of the American military in order to allow aircraft unimpeded access to Tempelhofer Feld, and a new smaller tower replaced it in 1955.
|Wed, 23. October||St. Canisius|
A peal of four bells, cast in 1955 for the original church building that stood on the site. Incorporated into a newly-designed tower in 2002, after the previous enclosure was damaged by fire in 1995.
|Thu, 24. October||Marienkirche, Mitte|
Two bells, the earliest cast in 1705, in an iconic twelfth-century building in the centre of Alexanderplatz.