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Venice says: “no big ships”

Bells ring out in the evening at San Trovaso in Venice, on Christmas Eve, on an unusually quiet evening in the city – you can hear the calm in the night sky as the bells ring out.

There are lots of different bells sounds on the Cities and Memory sound map, which have been reimagined in lots of different ways, but this piece is politically inspired.

No Grandi Navi
One of the anti-cruise ship posters seen around Venice.

Walking around the city, we saw one of the frequent anti-cruise ship messages on a poster around Venice (see image), attacking these huge vessels for the damage they do to the city, physically and socially.

In fact, there is an entire organisation dedicated to raising awareness of this issue – and this photo collection by Gianni Berengo Gardin illustrates the problem brilliantly.

This piece joins the protests against these huge ships, by transforming a classic sound of Venice as it is today – the church bell – into the  very thing that threatens the city’s long-term future tomorrow, the cruise ship.

The bells have been transformed into an approximation of the engines of such a ship, over which a squall of feedback symbolises Venice being swallowed up by the eventual harm done by cruise ships.

At the end, all we are left with is the sound of waves (taken from field recordings in Sicily), as the city descends into the lagoon for the final time.

City version:

Memory version: