Sunday, May 15, 2005

Brian Eno, 10,000 year clocks and Shinto Temples

I decided to check out Brian Eno's website today after receiving my second Eno album "Ambient 4: On Land". The site was to be expected....... eclectic, artistic, minimal and taking you to places unusual. Much like his music which is growing on me.

Brian at work.

The gallery of his portraits is one man's journey in an interesting field showing Eno changing over the years. From a London flower child in the mid 60's to a made up adrogenous being during the Roxy Music/Bowie days playing one of those wonderful VCS3 synths....... Then watching his hair gradually disappear and his appearance today of a middle aged accountant....or a wizened elder in the fashion/artistic industry.

The only previous image of Eno I can remember was the Rocky Horror Show type image of a strange looking guy with rather long blonde or white hair and bald on top. I think this was from a documentary on Daniel Lanois who appears on the current album as a engineer in 82 which would have made it one of Lanois' first major albums.

Whilst surfing Eno's site, there's a link to the 10,000 year clock website which he had the privilege to visit in the making and now sits on the foundation board.

(This is a great site which I'll probably add to the sidebar, it appeals to the mechanical geek in me). The clock, website and subsequent foundation is the brainchild of a guy called Daniel Hillis, a computer engineer (looking frighteningly like Microsoft headkicker Steve Ballmer) who built a clock which he hopes will run for 10,000 years. It is no ordinary clock having a "mechanical binary" system driving it. Here's a semi-closeup of the mechanicals including a gorgeous piece of mechanical engineering which is the camshaft (that big wiggly brass bit) operating the solar clock for the next 10,000 years. Assuming mother Earth stays in orbit!

The reasons for this clock are as Hillis states:

When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.

In another section Hillis describes how an oak beam in an Oxford building was replaced by an oak grown in the 14th century by the very builder who foresaw the oak having to be replaced some 700 years later. This is the sort of foresight he is trying to realise.

From the 1000 year old clock website there is a link to the curious Myst-like Ise Shinto Shrine in Japan. This is replaced every 20 years.

This Shinto shrine at Ise named Jingu Shrine is rebuilt every twenty years. Its first incarnation was in 04 C.E. This type of design, which utilises ephemeral materials while capitalizing on the human element, is a great inspiration for The Long Now Foundation. This object has done something which Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids have not; it aided the survival of its institution.

The shrine website descibes thr process although I couldn't find any references what happened to the old shrine.

Adjacent to the present Goshoden is an open area of the same size. The new Goshoden will be built in this open area. The thinking behind the reconstruction is; just as the rice crops retain their form year after year, the buildings will retain their form eternally by reconstruction. Also, the faithful can expect new blessings from the revitalized gods in their new quarters.
Various theories exist on why the Ise shrine is rebuilt every 20 years. Whichever may be the case, it is rebuilt within a suitable time span in a persons life.

It also has a little Japanese tour of the various ceremonies as the new shrine is being built. Just click the Japanese characters next to the sign to the right of the sign on the website that looks like this.


  • nice, i love eno, have since roxy music, (who cannot like a band that has trannys looking like centerfolds as lp covers?). the links you pointed out are great. it is amazing they have rebuilt that sucker every 20 years for the last 2000 years. his interests seem be be very diverse.
    i think the first 3 solo lps were the best, if only for 'baby's on fire' . . .

    By Blogger sleepybomb, at 1:11 pm  

  • Yeah it was a nice little trip following a few links.

    Ambient 4 is great, has been playing non-stop for the past few days. It's dark, brooding and surreal. Very unlike the airy fairy stuff I've associated with ambient music.

    By Blogger Johnno, at 10:08 am  

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