The Bell Makers of Makabe (excerpt) 2019
3 channel HD video
Cinematography, Editing, Sound Design: Curtis Tamm
Assistant editor: Maneesh Raj Madahar, Hermione Spriggs
Music: John Brumley, Machina, Curtis Tamm
Bonsho are made from an undisclosed ratio of copper and tin, and poured in one fluid motion into casts made of clay, which are mixed in a hole dug into the floor of the foundry. He couldn't say for sure what the esoteric script imprinted into the bell meant, or, why illustrations of ‘tennin’ (flying celestial fairies) are pictured on its sides or why ancient sanskrit is chanted into the stream of plasmic bronze during the pouring process. But what he did tell me, is that the bell does its own work, just as he does his.
The two-story furnace has a spine-like staircase leading up to its mouth. Within minutes the raw coal produced a body of fire reaching out through the mouth, like a silent tongue flailing in darkness. “Still a baby,” he said nonchalantly, his words crystalizing into a cloud of warm air. The light of day broke through the large open space of the foundry, revealing a thin veil of smoke gathering into an inner-atmosphere. The living-room connected to the workshop has a large glass diorama, filled with impressive taxidermy; a collecting hobby of Kotabe-san’s father. Owls, geese and eagles are held suspended in mid-flight, and a life-size polar bear swipes at an invisible seal within a contained interspecies eden. All the animals have their backs turned to the roaring furnace as if uninterested, or intimidated.