Installation of 47 bronze bells made from the metal of a melted French bell dated from 1742, turnings, slag, performance.
Installation: dimensions variable
I was looking for a bell that rung the time. It was important for it to have once rung the time because I wanted to melt time. I found the bell in Berlin. It was a French bell made in 1742 that rung the hours and church services of a small village. In olden days the size of a village was determined by how far a bell could be heard. It was the heart of a village, creating its social (and personal) rhythms. This bell was taken to one of the oldest German bell foundries, still family owned, and melted down at their current site in Slovakia (the foundry recently moved to Slovakia for economic reasons, but they still own a shop in Berlin). I instructed the foundry to use the metal of the melted bell, bronze that literally had vibrated the hours of the day for centuries, and form small hand bells in the same style as the big bell. In the end 47 small bronze bells were made. It was important that they were small, that they would fit in the size of a hand, as if you were holding your own time.
The small bells get activated in a performance at local noon (as opposed to standard noon). 47 performers ring the bells together to signal noon, as if the weight and the sound of the old bell was distributed amongst the performers. They then disperse into the local city or village or exhibition space, as if the bell is fragmented and re-distributed. They fall out of synchronization with each other, and begin to ring their own time. The performance ends when a performer can no longer hear another bell, and the old bell has dissolved into a space.
Instructions for Ringers:
At local noon on the given date, begin to ring the bells in the gallery to signal the time. (There is no leader to instruct when everyone will start.)
Attempt to ring the bells in synchronicity with everyone.
Continue ringing together for a minute or two. (Again, there is no leader deciding this.)
Slowly exit the gallery on your own, continuing to ring.
Wander off into different directions.
When you are alone and can no longer hear another bell, continue ringing for a short period of time, then stop ringing and then return to the gallery.
The piece ends when all 47 bells are individually scattered across the neighbourhood surrounding the gallery.
The length of the piece may be short, or may be long.
This is a poem written by Ed Steck, an american poet who is a friend of David Horvitz. The poem was written as the press release for the presentation of the bells in Copenhagen:
It is just time passing. It probably won’t be remembered.
The bell is tethering a connectedness to phantom time. It is out of joint – a widening hinge for potential, for closing time to create a bootleg chronology of comparative digitisation and miniature mechanics.
It will be empty.
Time won’t be anywhere.
The clock moves occasionally.
When is it time?
When is it time to?
A molding of presentable past-present placement is the original settlement for human occupancy. A melting of presented past-present displacement is the forced settlement of time into a human occupancy.
It gives it rhythm when it is absent.
What appeals to time – sequential arrangements of a baroque signaling device – when the waking sound lacking sync is cyclically transformed, when time can no longer be acknowledged: a duplicating timeframe for the referenced subject and object, or the free distribution of an initial timeline paralleling the space between the object viewed in time and the viewer of the object.
It repeats, in time.
Watching counterfeit time originate.
Watching counterfeit time copy and disappear.