ARTWORK + > Other of Pearl

Whale Bells
Whale Bells
Handblown ombré glass, Miocene-era fossilized whale ear bone (tympanic bullae), acoustically-tuned cast rubber ear bones, hand-dyed organic cotton rope, patinated brass, faux-finished steel pipe using Behr paint in S350-1 “Climate Change” white, salvaged

Humpback whales are known for their haunting songs—a form of communication born of an alien acoustic culture—as yet unintelligible to us humans.

When the 1985 moratorium on commercial whaling was finally enacted, only five percent of humpbacks remained. Though populations have been recovering, lesser-known threats continue, including the significant impact of commercial shipping noise, fossil fuel seismic exploration, and military sonar. Humpbacks’ unique sonic cultures, and the future survival of their species, are jeopardized by this acoustic pollution of our oceans.

Derived from the shape of a spyhopping humpback, each bell contains two objects appearing to rise from the deep: the fossilized ear bone of a Miocene Epoch whale and its echo, which has been cast in acoustically-tuned transparent rubber. These ear bones, standing in for the bell’s clappers, are from an ancient species of rorqual whale related to modern humpbacks. In this way, the part of the whale’s ear that once received sound now creates a new and fragile resonance—suggesting a message released from these ancient oceans, across deep time.

The Whale Bells are a collaborative and ongoing project with artist Andrew Bearnot.

Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer