theharshnoiselevelofbirds

theharshnoiselevelofbirds and Radiation, Its Legal!
by Bird Hansen

An interactive installation held at gmu’s crit space meant to bring about information on the decline of bird populations in north america due in part to overwhelming amounts of garbage interrupting their habitats as well as the influence consumerism has on people to throw things out. The installation itself was made up mostly of older technology as a means of showcasing both perceived and planned obsolescence.

 

theharshnoiselevelofbirds (excerpt) by Lammergeier. Instrumentation: 24 Dying Birds, Bass, Korg Monotron, Processed Atari Computer Datasette

The audio was made in Reason and features the bird calls of 24 birds that are currently endangered and/or extinct in North America. The visuals are from Birds of America, a documentary on John J Audubon and On a Wing and a Prayer, a documentary about declining levels of songbirds.

This project was made with the help of John Barnes and Miles Turner

Installation images:

Research

For my project I did a lot of research in sound art and plunderphonics as inspiration for the harshbirds synth and the sound itself. Specifically I looked at John Cage’s Bird Cage piece as well as his piece Water Walk (shown here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yybn6iKmYdQ), The idea was to have a project that involved not only audience interaction with the installation but interaction as a performer going between various machines for both the audio and visual aspects of the performance. Cage’s compositions involve a lot of precise timing and movements, something I wanted for this installation to make sure that any perceived chaos was simply perceived. In addition I wanted to utilize space the way Cage did, with everything deliberately placed not just for aesthetic but also for purpose, so that things are placed in relation to how they are to be used. This was what inspired the bird’s nest look of the installation, things were working from the center outward and could all be easily accessed from a single spot, something I needed due to the chronic pain in my leg.

The other main research happened in looking through multiple online databases of endangered birds, focusing on north american birds that have distinct calls. I settled on 24, one for each key of my MIDI controller. I also wanted to showcase how the majority of Hawaii’s native birds are endangered by creating a whole section of the piece and the keyboard that was wholly created with the songs of hawaiian birds.

Video from inside the “Birds Nest”