Sound and multimedia artist Samson Young discusses his ongoing project For Whom the Bell Tolls: A Journey Into the Sonic History of Conflict, the result of a sixty-day journey spanning five continents. Whether from an old tower in London or across the quad of a university campus in South Carolina, bells have traditionally called communities to worship, sounded alarms, and marked the passage of time. Through field recordings, drawings, graphic notations, and compositions, Young documents the sounds of these bells as well as the cacophony of voices and street sounds that surround them in the tradition of avant-garde musicians like John Cage. Taking the title of Ernest Hemingway’s novel literally, Young questions for whom the bells are played, cast, and preserved. His other recent projects include experimentations using household items to recreate sounds of bombings in the Middle East and a multimedia improvisation incorporating biosensory data from string quartet performers.
Born in Hong Kong in 1979, Young received his training in electronic music and composition at Princeton University (MFA and PhD). He has participated in art and music festivals around the world, including the Canberra International Music Festival, Australia; the Japan Media Art Festival, Tokyo; the Lucerne Festival, Switzerland; the Tonlagen Festival, Dresden; and the New York Electronic Art Festival, New York. Young has recently participated in group shows at the Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, and the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney. His work has been exhibited in biennials in Moscow, Shanghai, San Jose, and Hong Kong. Young was the recipient of the Brian M. Israel Prize at the New York Society for New Music and is the inaugural winner of the Art Basel-BMW Art Journey award, which made the For Whom the Bell Tolls project possible.