ENVIRONMENTS IN THE AIR

Photos: Marco Lara

Environments in the Air was a soundscape and a cymatic piece presented at the Center for Digital Culture in Mexico City during 2018-2019 as part of the exhibition Espacios de Especies.  The second piece in these series of soundscapes was presented at the RE:SOUND 2019 MAH conference in Aalborg Denmark. Birds that inhabit cities needed to adapt their songs not only to the reverberations of the technosphere but also to the consequences of it —global warming and its effect on migration, avoidance of noisy areas, changes in reproductive success, and changes in vocal communication—. Both pieces work with the morning chorus of the birds that gathered in a specific tree in the forest adjacent to the exhibition center in Mexico City. They were mostly grackles, Quiscalus mexicanus. These birds were gathered in a colony and are one of the species that best withstand and adapt to urban conditions, group coexistence is a survival advantage. In the second soundscape, Technosphere02 I have included pitch variations, variations in call frequency, and song component redundancies. The non-audible component in this piece is the electricity of the surrounding area which I recorded using an electromagnetic microphone. 

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The approach of these first two experimental soundscapes is poetic but since earlier this year I have been collaborating with the ornithology laboratory at UNAM in a medium term bird monitoring project. In such we seek to determine the richness of bird species in the Cantera biological reserve, by recording and analyzing their vocalizations with Song Meter SM4 independent recorders and the Kaleidoscope Pro 5 analysis software from Wildlife Acoustics. My aim in this research and soundscape production series is to question contemporary anthropocentrism and its consideration of the world as an exclusively human space from the perspective of the adaptation and construction of the significant sonorous environments of birds. It is also my intention to ponder about the life configurations that can be thought about in the open space of field research and the possibility to see beyond human driven space dynamics.

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Leena Lee 2019