Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bell Circles II

A couple of earlier posts here talked about the pair of bells in front of the Oregon Convention Center, donated by Portland's sister cities of Sapporo, Japan, and Ulsan, South Korea. I mentioned there was also an acoustic art installation connected to the bells: Bell Circles II is an automated system that rings the bells every so often. Signs simply say the bells ring without warning, but they allegedly operate on a set schedule. Supposedly the Sapporo bell rings hourly, while the Ulsan bell rings on a schedule that evolves over time and resets on each solstice and equinox.. I say "allegedly" and "supposedly" because I was at the Convention Center recently and I had the idea of filming the Sapporo bell ringing. I'd checked YouTube and couldn't find any video of either of the bells ringing, so it seemed like this would fill an important cultural gap or something. So I started filming just before the top of the hour, and kept filming for four minutes, and came away with a boring video of the bell just sitting there, doing nothing. Later it occurred to me that "hourly" doesn't necessarily mean "at the top of the hour". Still, I feel like I've made a good faith effort to record the bell doing its thing, and I don't really feel like going back and hanging around for an hour or more to see if it ever actually rings. So I'm just going to go with the video clip I already have, and imagine that the bell's playing a famous John Cage piece. Yeah, that's the ticket.