Like numerous American Revolution symbols, the Liberty Bell symbolizes independence and civilian freedom in the country. Philadelphia’s cracked Liberty Bell portrays a larger truth – that freedom stays inconsistent and distorted in the United States. It inspired Baker Cahill’s project, “Liberty Bell,” which is presented in Charleston through July 2021. One can locate it at the Battery, facing Fort Sumter and near White Point Garden.
Cahill talked about how ‘liberty’ was earlier just available to a particular demographic and came at a cost to others. He further said that one will not be able to discuss freedom without covering the history of inequality and slavery in the United States. Cahill questioned freedom in an era of surveillance, disinformation, injustice, and pandemic, and he feels this is the conversation people need to have.
The “Liberty Bell” is an augmented reality work and can be seen through a mobile app known as the 4th Wall. The AR drawing appears like an animated 3-D piece. For this project, Cahill collaborated with the Art Production Fund, a non-profit organization that supports “ambitious” public artworks.
Locally, Cahill and the Center for Heirs Property Preservation became partners to present the project. The “Liberty Bell” image features red, blue, and white entangled ribbons. The work was Baker Cahill’s idea, but she had to collaborate with AR techs to make the sound and image come to life for the audiences to experience.
Baker Cahill likes the viewer to experience the work in person and briefly talked about the project’s inner workings, specifically, the bell sounds the viewer witnesses. Every bell sound denotes gathered history from various parts of the globe. One can find the “Liberty Bells” in different U.S cities that are historically relevant, like Philadelphia, Washington D.C, and Boston. Numerous African slaves were forced into the nation through Charleston’s slave ports, which makes the Charleston Harbour and the Battery a suitable location to view “Liberty Bell.”
Cahill feels it is best to encounter the project closest to the fence directly before the Confederate Defenders statue. The artwork has a brilliant position before the structure, where Confederate flag supporters gather every Sunday. The project adjusts to the sun’s position, and hence, people can see the work even on cloudy days. Cahill emphasized her choice in placing the artwork toward Fort Sumter, where the Civil War started.
The ribbons’ intertwining
Baker Cahill mentioned that the ribbons’ intertwining resembles their connections with each other as individuals of the nation. In Cahill’s work, every ribbon occasionally rose and fell on its own, depicting a symbolic dissonance between individuals. Also, there is a sound that is a lot like static disturbance while seeing the artwork that crafts the illusion of turbulence, thus embodying the bell’s crack.
Baker Cahill spoke about her future projects and said that she is ready to collaborate for meaningful pieces of art. In the journey towards resolving the nation’s environmental issues and race relations, Cahill mentioned that she is open to learning how she can bring a change.