立場新聞 Stand News

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Vienna and Innsbruck, Austria

2015/12/2 — 12:06

The Pummerin

The Pummerin

To listen to the recordings from this stop, visit https://soundcloud.com/samsonyoung/sets/for-whom-the-bell-tolls-austria

I came to Vienna for the Pummerin — the largest of the bells that adorn the Stephansdom. Due to its fragility the instrument is only tolled a few times a year. The original Pummerin was cast out of 300 cannons that were left behind by the Turks during the Ottoman siege of Vienna. The original Pummerin was destroyed during WWII. In 1952, a new Pummerin was created out of the molten remains of the original bell and Turkish cannons from the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum. I arrived at Stephansplatz early in the morning on national day, and settled in a corner with my art supplies. As with any celebratory occasions that call for public gathering in Europe these days, there was a general tenseness and a high degree of caution. The police came by to check on me several times. The smaller bells of Stephansdom sounded in a variety of combinations throughout the day. The real special moment came at 5pm, when the infrequently-heard Pummerin first tolled on its own for 15 minutes, and then provided a persistent ostinato to a urgent three-note pattern. The treble and the bass maintained rhythmic independence throughout, each occupying its own temporal space. While smaller bells speak with clarity and can be heard from afar, large bells are mostly felt. They produce waves of deep, voluminous vibration that engulf and ground the soul. How could anybody not find the Pummerin’s sound beautiful, I thought to myself. The profundity of experiences such as these exposes moral relativism as a lie. But then I am reminded of several court cases that I came across in my research, where residents living near bell towers attempted to put a stop to the regular tolling. There could be too much of a beautiful thing. Sound, even beautiful ones, has moments of aggression and does not care to be contained. Ideologies behave in the same manner. The operative logic of moral courage is the extension of invitations, not impositions.

Grassmayr bell foundry

Grassmayr bell foundry

廣告

The next morning we arrived at Innsbruck. The Pummerin’s maintenance service is provided by the Grassmayr bell foundry in this sleepy resort town. The owners of the foundry gave us a tour. In the afternoon I recorded the bells of a nearby monastery, which are also the proud creations of the Grassmayr. The next morning we left for the “peace bell” in South Tyrol, which tolls daily at 5pm. The bell is located in a remote hilltop at the end of a scenic hiking trail. At 4:55pm a technician came to start the bell. We were its lone pilgrims in this bitterly cold afternoon. But the bell couldn’t care less. Throughout history, the bell has called us to take arms, to pray, to gather, to flee, to celebrate and to mourn, but it has absolutely no opinion about us. The sensorial pleasure that it affords is disinterested. It draws the world in, but also keeps it at arms-length. For all and for nobody it tolls.

廣告

And this was how the BMW-funded portion of my travel concluded.

My journey began a little over 4 months ago in Mandalay. And as I write this last travelogue, it’s only been two days since the people of Myanmar casted their historic votes. I harbour no unrealistic fantasy of democracy as the magic bullet, but the masses who turned out for the ballot looked truly dignified.


====
Artist website - www.thismusicisfalse.com
Project website - www.bmw-art-journey.com
BMW Facebook page - www.facebook.com/bmw

發表意見