THE HEART BEAT OF A BRIDGE
Today I went for my daily walk and again I heard it: the heartbeat of the bridge. This is Kingsmead Viaduct, a raised dual-carriageway viaduct of the A10 road on the eastern outskirts of Ware, Hertfordshire, England. It carries the A10 over the River Lea, the New River and the Hertford East railway. It is a special place and I recorded its heartbeat.
On the 5th of August I was moved by the words of Italian architect Renzo Piano unveiling the magnificent Genoa San Giorgio Bridge, which is the replacement for the Morandi Bridge that collapsed in a storm almost two years ago.
Renzo Piano’s speech was moving, he said: “I wish for this bridge to be loved”. Today, walking under the Kingsmead Viaduct in Ware, I thought that yes, we can love a bridge and suddenly the sound of traffic above became a heartbeat.
With the sounds of the bridge and fragments of Renzo Piano’s speech at the opening I created “The Heartbeat”. Listen to it (it’s on Tumblr).
You may also want to read a very short story by Franz Kafka. You will never look at a bridge in the same way.
The Bridge (Franz Kafka, translation by Edwin Muir)
I was stiff and cold, I was a bridge, I lay over a ravine. My toes on one side, my fingers clutching the other, I had clamped myself fast into the crumbling clay. The tails of my coat fluttered at my sides. Far below brawled the icy trout stream. No tourist strayed to this impassable height, the bridge was not yet traced on any map. So I lay and waited; I could only wait. Without falling, no bridge, once spanned, can cease to be a bridge.
It was toward evening one day — was it the first, was it the thousandth? I cannot tell — my thoughts were always in confusion and perpetually moving in a circle. It was toward evening in summer, the roar of the stream had grown deeper, when I heard the sound of a human step! To me, to me. Straighten yourself, bridge, make ready, railless beams, to hold up the passenger entrusted to you. If his steps are uncertain, steady them unobtrusively, but if he stumbles show what you are made of and like a mountain god hurl him across to land.
He came, he tapped me with the iron point of his stick, then he lifted my coattails with it and put them in order upon me. He plunged the point of his stick into my bushy hair and let it lie there for a long time, forgetting me no doubt while he wildly gazed around him. But then — I was just following him in thought over mountain and valley — he jumped with both feet on the middle of my body. I shuddered with wild pain, not knowing what was happening. Who was it? A child? A dream? A wayfarer? A suicide? A tempter? A destroyer? And I turned so as to see him. A bridge to turn around! I had not yet turned quite around when I already began to fall, I fell and in a moment I was torn and transpierced by the sharp rocks which had always gazed up at me so peacefully from the rushing water.