A Dissimulation of Birds

Our capacity to communicate, and more so our ability to sing is directly related to our intimate evolutionary relationship with the acoustic genius of birds. Our species has internalised and evolved the trills and warbles of birdsong to form language and music.

A Dissimulation of Birds pays homage to the virtuosity of our feathered friends and playfully manipulates sonic mimicry, human on bird and bird on human. 

Twelve small wooden bird houses are installed at the Bundanon Trust property in a mature Eucalypt forest that fringes the Shoalhaven River.  One set of birdhouses deliver bird sounds that mimic humans and the other, human sounds that mimic the song of birds.

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The work mixes the almost perverse virtuosity of the Lyre Bird rendering construction noises with chatty Parakeets and Myna Birds reworking electronic games.

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Set against eighteenth century musical automata, cuckoo clocks and snatches from Messiaen’s brilliant Catalogue d’oiseaux.

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The lighthearted touch of the work belies the deep undercurrents of human evolutionary pre-history and even deeper in time the evolution of birdsong itself which originated in Australia.

A Dissimulation of Birds from Nigel Helyer on Vimeo.

A short video sample.

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