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Sampling and the performance of knowledge - one bird at a time


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Our submission includes documentation of a multimedia artwork with an accompanying commentary that explores overlaps between bird calls and human music genres.
A characteristic of our current relation to birds is their growing unavailability due to the degradation of ecosystems and threats from predators. Taking our cue from birds inhabiting the coast of Aotearoa/New Zealand, musician Matthew Bannister and I ask how we might communicate and cooperate with these precious taonga.
Bird vocalisation is a performed negotiation that effectively says “Come here” or “Go away”, which arguably can be true of music – marking a social space and time to invite or repel. Rather than limiting bird calls to functionalist categories of explanation, we use the technique of granular time-stretching, to analyse/experience the inner timbre of bird vocalisation and the rhythmic patterns of their calls. As a result sound samples are composed through the voice of the bird, becoming a human response to the ‘other’ in jointly formed compositions, reflecting an evolving relationship between composer and the bird.
We also apply an electroacoustic composition technique (granular synthesis), to a video portrait of performer/composer and bird. Granular synthesis is a sampling method by which sounds are broken into tiny grains, redistributed and reorganised to form other sounds. Normally applied only to audio signals, this technique can be used to reshape video signals into video grains – repositioning time and space within the video sequence. As tiny units of image and sound, performer and bird are stretched, pushed, pulled and held, articulating the limits of space/territory, while finding a way to be heard within it.

Item Type: Journal item
Uncontrolled Keywords: Multimedia, music, photography, electroacoustic sampling
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NE Print media
Q Science > QH Natural history
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Schools > School of Media Arts
Depositing User: Vicki Kerr
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2023 00:28
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 00:28

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