“This is where we must begin; with the magical power of replication, the image affecting what it is an image of, wherein the representation shares in or takes power from the represented — testimony to the power of the mimetic faculty through whose awakening we might not so much understand that shadow science known as magic… but see anew the spell of the natural where the reproduction of life merges with the recapture of the soul”
this particular iteration of the project also trucks with the notion of documentation being the only trace of performance, and asks whether (and if so : how), the deliberate non-spectatorship of an event in an overmediated world can lend clarity to that event, and, relatedly, that if we posit that there is no such thing as an event without an audience (or a tree falling in a forest, or silence, variously), what might happen if we imagine a spectatorial base that is non-human, or "natural". how can we approach non human animals, in other words, as listeners that are "equal but different", and what might this mean? what is it to understand a non human species, to approach an encounter outside any propensity to anthropomorphise, to get around 'figurative appropriation' - using animals as symbolic, reductive, sentimentalised, illustrative metaphors - and can we make steps to do this by tracing observations about the history and development of the human-nonhuman animal bond? i.e. how does reciprocality function in this relationship - in a general situation, as Erica Fudge puts it, where “we lack a language at present in which we can think about and represent animals to ourselves as animals, in ways that are not metaphorical" (Fudge, E. (2002). Animal.)
my piece's methodology was inspired somewhat variously by recent bioacoustic studies into bird listening and mimicry, notions of EVP and the perpetuance of ghost-signals signal via transmission, the potential for a radio station powered directly from the sun, how birdsong is affected by human changes in the soundscape, and some general wondering around how Deleuzian ideas about the birdsong as refrain and the sonification of territory relate to small scale, bounded radio transmission.
some specific formal elements were inspired by a story reported on the Radio New Zealand website on the 8th August 2009, under the header :
Birdsong recordings to lure kokako to new homes
Thirty rare native kokako are to be relocated in the North Island with recorded birdsongs being played to help them settle in.
The birds are being moved to help re-establish kokako populations in Whirinaki Forest Park near Murupara and in the Waitakere Ranges.
Waikato University PhD student David Bradley will use recordings made from the birds' home territory, including the Urewera National Park and forests in King Country and Waikato, to encourage them to stay in their new surroundings.
Mr Bradley says the pre-recorded birdsongs will be played through speakers that will be hoisted by ropes into trees."
many thanks are due to Ben Smith, Orokonui guide, and Campbell Walker, photographer.