Bird Boxes: Lost Singers (2020)

Marylou Petot

Sponsor: V2_Lab, Host: V2_Lab

In Europe, more than a third of bird species have disappeared over the last decade as a direct consequence from human impact on biodiversity. In the Camargue (France), the baillon’s crake, the penduline tit and the European bee-eater have been endangered for many years. During a three year period many recordings have been made of these birds which have almost disappeared in the Camargue. Throughout the installation the audience will experience these recordings and the sound library of many endangered birds.

Contemporary society is very fixated and fascinated by modern technology. Oftentimes it celebrates technological advances without being fully aware of how these advances impact our ecosystem. Bird Boxes: Lost Singers draws a parallel between our decaying ecosystem and our fascination with technological advances. The paradox being, without such advances we would be unable to record, archive, and commemorate endangered species.

In nature, birds create precise musical scores. Together, they form orchestras which are very important for the biodiversity’s survival. According to Bernie Krause, a biophony expert, the acoustic world of nature is characterized by constant togetherness, and a simultaneity of different signals. But, the separation of individual voices becomes necessary for each species. Animals claim their own frequency on the sonic spectrum in order to protect their territory and attract suitable mates. Every lost emission can be either a threat to their own life or the survival of their species. Unfortunately, for the past several years the sonic richness of our countryside has slowly extinguished, rendering these natural habitats less vocal.

The project Bird Boxes: Lost Singers sheds light on the need for awareness for these lost singers. Visitors are invited to reactivate these birds and their natural soundscape throughout the immersive sound and light installation. While re-creating the harmonic and euphoric soundscape, the bird boxes and trees communicate their evolution and decay over the last 40 years. Within a pedagogical and playful approach, visitors regain control over the disappearing animal sounds and become conductors of their orchestra.

This project was developed during a residency as part of a Summer Sessions residency at V2_.