Drums Between The Bells
Last month I was invited over to Melbourne to photograph and assist Tiffany Singh in producing her installation at Next Wave Festival. Tiffany was given a historic tree in downtown Melbourne to experiment with a new works. The installation was titled Drums Between The Bells and involved the installation of 12,000 bells in a single tree.
This was my first time participating in an installation of this scale and wow…I had no clue just how much work was involved in the installation process and will honestly treasure this experience forever. Such a satisfying feeling to work so hard on something and then sit back (even if only briefly) and see the impact it had on literally tens of thousands of people. Everyone that passed seemed to flock to the tree in some sort of trance-like state, giving the feeling that the installation took on a magnetic force of its own. The look and sound of 12,000 bells all in one place was majestic, surreal and absolutely sacred. Tiffany Singh I love how your mind works you beautiful creature!
The title Drums Between The Bells alludes to the metaphysical realm of understanding in-between the physical and spiritual world. The artwork transformed this living space into an open-air musical instrument. The outdoor work was densely filled with strings of small bells hanging vertically from the branches as a beautifully suspended aesthetically resolved installation; so the audience moving through the work activated it along with the wind currents so that the work became alive and able to be ‘played’.
This initial installation was then available for participation. The audience was asked to take one of the bells on a pilgrimage to their favourite place and install the bell there, it was also requested that they document this process online creating a new work that would be dispersed throughout the city, the photos and film footage would be uploaded into the next wave website with a map of the city so that the work could continue to live on at different locations creating a treasure hunt of bells moving and mapping the communities favourite or sacred parts of the city.
As the bells were released all that was left were the white ribbons. It was surprising and a bit overwhelming just how fast the bells were taken down and how determined the public became about wanting to ‘own’ a string of bells. Sadly only 6 people sent us images of their bells in their favourite places, a somewhat sad reflection of where we are at today in society, with ownership of materials at the forethought for many. On reflection we would love to see this installation take place out of the city, in a location were people can really stop and take in the simplistic beauty these bells create as a whole. Giving the audience the time and space to absorb what they are seeing, hearing and touching maybe they would be more inclined to take ownership in their implied obligation when taking a bell?
What 12,000 bells hanging from white ribbon looks like hanging in a tree :) This last image was taken using instagram at the end of our 7 hour instal day. All other images were taken using various analog cameras + films. Special thanks to Tiffany for inviting me to participate in this installation with her and the Next Wave Festival for giving us this platform to create, share and experiment. Also special thanks to my friend Michael for helping me document this event. More images and video coming from him soon!