Talk by Dr Mike Collier, The Dawn Chorus – Tuesday 31st March

Tuesday, 31st March, Nibbles 6 pm talk 6.30 to 7.30 pm,
Seminar Room, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Mike is Professor of Visual Art, University of Sunderland and will talk in conversation with composer and musician Dr Bennett Hogg about their ongoing project with master printmaker Alex Charrington, and Natural History Sound Recordist Geoff Sample.

Together they have been developing work that explores the relationship between the natural world, its specific cultures and cultural ecologies and our own sense of culture/s. In particular, they have embarked on a three-year study of a dawn chorus in Northumberland representing their research variously as digitally manipulated sonograms and musical transcriptions.

The idea of the ‘dawn chorus’ vies with nightingales song as the aspect of birdsong most engaging to the general public.

Although the established understanding of birdsong is rooted on the premise that each singing bird is only, or predominately, concerned with intra-specific communication, listening to the mass of birds singing at dawn we intuitively describe the phenomenon as a chorus. However, new analysis of the whole auditory scene suggests inter-specific structure as well, giving rise to the ‘chorus’ impression, rather than random cacophony. This is the ‘area’ that our project specifically focuses on.

Contemporary understandings of the relationships of humans to a ‘more-than-human-world’ have begun to move away from a ‘preservation’ model to one of ‘sustainability’ and we now recognise the inescapable interdependence of humans and their environments, a model that sees humans as participant members of a world rather than its users. This project links the Arts and the Environmental Sciences, human expression and bird communication in a collaboration, exploring ways of presenting and re-imagining our complex, embodied and participatory engagement with a particular aspect of local ecosystems – a dawn chorus.

For a place please email Josephinecousin@googlemail.com.

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