Lorne Sculpture Biennale Scarlett Essay



Anton Hasell 


“Landfall” (or “land-ho”) are calls from a ship’s deck at sea on sighting land, in a quivering voice, laden with hope, and fear. Beaching a craft upon a shore radiant with the promise of treasure requires navigating crashing waves on rocky coastlines.


Once on shore though, land gives up its resources to its coloniser. Whether it be a small island, a continent or the planet, colonising scenarios have played out in full.  Sustainable futures for the seven and rising billon people feasting upon our planet looks evermore doubtful. 


We non-indigenous people who live in Australia find ourselves on an ancient land mass that is nearly, but not quite, familiar. It is a landscape with unique archetypal cadences, an ambient pulse that unsettles us, and against which our imported familiar architectures and garden-planting schemes act as a bulwark to its strangeness, keeping us émigrés to country. 


The palpable and visceral nature of Australian experience necessarily diminishes the visual dominance of cultural expression common to international arts. Here, the senses are interwoven in powerful and secret ways, and sound vibration over vast and shallow space shivers above and below the audible range, as felt pulsation, as electrical fizzing, as much tasted, touched and seen, as smelt and heard. Intuition alive to these complex sensory experiences can bring us in tune with country.  


If we can tune into country, wehave something useful to share with a world looking for sustainable co-habitation on their part of the planet. We can share our special listening experience with them. 


Listening is fundamental to our discovery of self and place of being. Everyone must find ways to live in tune, and in rhythm, with their landscapes. My exploration of the sonic experience of the Australian landscape is resulting in sculptural, multi-sensory forms worth listening to. In this way, I hope to share the subtle percussive sounds and invented listening experiences with my fellow citizens, and with people across the world. 


Accessible, interactive and participatory public art installations, like the Federation Bells Carillonat Birrarung Marr Park Melbourne, become sites of shared multi-sensory experience. This is an art experience beyond spectatorship and entertainment, inviting everyone to listen to the creativity of others. It is a listening experience for the positive energy of people. It is an invitation to creative play and the sharing of considered sensibilities. People anywhere in the world can download the Federation Bell Carillon Installation’s phone app, or use its web page, to compose music for this set of unique musical bells.  Imagine people joyfully engaged in accessible, participatory and responsive creative play. 


It offers a vision for public-space architectures connecting people with one another, and with the country they share with each other, listening for resonance and being sensitive and alive to the interwoven fields of vibration animating life all about them. People are composing with the fabulous and bewitching sounds of the Australian landscape vibrated from unique bronze forms.


Shivering bronze forms such as the harmonic bell, (a sound long sort in Europe but invented here) and the difference-tone bells installed in the 10,000-Year clock being buried inside a Texan mountain, or the newly invented Nao bell to be exhibited at the Chengdu Museum, all first sounded in Mia Mia, becoming unique resonant frequencies to this country, like the sounds of the bull-roarer and of the cockatoo.


Open, free, egalitarian, playful and ingenious creativity and invention, isn’t that what we Australians stand for in our cultural life? Shouldn’t this be our gift to a world in desperate need? That everyone gets to ‘have a go’ is not just a mantra for seeing if an idea works through participation, it is integral to the idea of ‘a fair go’, that powerful concept underwriting our community’s ingenuity (and the remaining hope for a prosperous future). Being sensitive to subliminal resonant frequencies and rhythms of our ancient landscape; tuning into country; this is the work of discovering who, and where, we are.


“Landfall” might be the call of someone’s pirate-maniacal imaginings of untold individual wealth appearing over the horizon, like those simple (it turns out, too simple) economic models of vast cattle farms, mineral mining and other schemes of exploitation that draw people to the heart of outback Australia. However, it can also be a call to tune into landfall’s siren song, to find oneself drawn to the irresistible sonic patterns that resonate and ricochet, reverberate and echo in, around, across and under the complex topological forms and vast open spaces of living country.  


It is my greater hope that this kind of investigation, of tuning into our country and of building joyful sites of shared creative play for all, can inform the kind of society needed to find a sustainable harmony with the planet we are so very crowded upon. 



Vale our friend Lawrence Argent

I celebrate the too-short life of my friend Lawrence Argent. Lawrence died late last year and it has been a terrible shock for his family and his friends. Lawrence and I met on our first day at RMIT Sculpture School in 1979 and became fast friends, sharing our lives as artists discovering the joys of creativity, imagination and craft skills required to manifest our insights into beauty and truth. We both delighted in the digital revolution's power to enhance our creative output, and although Lawrence moved to live in the USA during the early 1980s and I remained in Victoria Australia, we stayed in contact and made regular visits to each other between continents. 

Lawrence is the finest artist I have known, and his powerful insights and philosophical thinking are an inspiration to my practice as an artist. His artwork remains as a testament to a wonderful artistic vision and energy, and these artworks are to found across the USA and China especially. I think his master work is 'The Venus' in Market St, San Francisco. Commissioned by Angelo Sangiacomo of the Trinity Group, this masterpiece of sculpture is fabricated in polished stainless-steel and stands at a glorious 93 ft in the plaza space between a group of buildings. It is a wonder of the world and I encourage everyone to visit this sculpture and be amazed at the twisting surfaces and complex shapes the figure of The Venus makes as it is spun in a vortex of pure energy. I am so proud of my friend's brilliance as an artist, so sad not to have him near anymore and sad for his family and friends who lament the loss of his companionship, his dry humour, his sage insight and his great sense of fun and joy.   

3D printed Longnow bells in metal

You can find the series of blogs on the Synapse Residency at the ANAT blog AntonHasell 17. Here is the latest blog.

Lab 22 CSIRO is focussed on 3D printing directly in metal and the focus of my specific research in the Synapse program has been to discover the tuning effects of a known cast bell sound when the bell design has been 3D printed directly in metal.


Types of direct metal printing include using metal powders (titanium, stainless-steel and bronze amongst the most usual materials) placed in electron beam or laser heat sources to fuse the metal particles layer by layer. Alternative methods include accelerating particles to speeds high enough that they fuse with metallic layers already printed and the use of robotic arms and temperature-controlled environments in which electric arc (mig) welding continuously builds layers of fused metal. 


Dr Daniel East, Gary Savage and I wanted to see the results of printing process offered in the US by Exone Company using a system where stainless-steel powder is printed in layers with a resin to form a resin bound stainless-steel form which is placed in a kiln and has bronze powder added. At temperatures above 1011 Celsius the resin is burnt out and replaced with liquid bronze.  We ordered one Longnow Clock bell design in the materials 316 stainless-steel and a tin bronze of Cu 90% Sn 10%, and another in the materials 420 stainless-steel and the tin bronze, with a 60 % stainless to 40% bronze ratio.


I include pictures of both bells and note that both bells hold the partial frequency array of cast bronze bells, with both bells generating a difference tone, that is a pitch with a psychoacoustic effect of sounding one octave below the lowest actual partial frequency, its fundamental, sounded in the bell. I believe these to be the first ever 3D direct metal printed bells, and so it seems right that their design be of the newly invented Longnow Difference-tone Bell. Danny Hillis of the Longnow Foundation gave his blessing to this research using the Longnow bell design.


More recently, Lab 22 has printed a 95mm mouth diameter difference tone bell design in titanium using the Electron Beam Printer and this bell also retains the same partial frequency array as a cast bronze bell at the same scale. There are plans to print a larger titanium bell at Lab 22, and some of the small Mathematician Instrument Sculptures I designed whilst in residency at La 22. 


Although I have now completed my wonderful Synapse Residency at CSIRO I feel sure that a research relationship with them will endure. I cannot thank ANAT and CSIRO enough and of course everyone at Lab 22 Clayton for allowing me the amazing experience of working in that research environment. The residency has been inspirational for me and has enlarged my vision of what is possible in orders of magnitude I can but hope to demonstrate with my ongoing research into the history, tradition, sound and technology of bell (and sound) design in public-space. 

Synapse Residency

I am very excited to be invited to a Synapse Residency Art:Science later this year.