3 April - 25 May 2015
For this spring exhibition we worked with Brighton Festival to co-present Dawn Chorus by Marcus Coates.
Dawn Chorus was an immersive multi-screen film installation that used unique digital methods to explore the relationship between birdsong and the human voice, and similarities between bird and human behaviour.
Nineteen individual singers uncannily recreated birdsong and bird movement. Together they formed a chorus that accurately simulated the sounds and timings of a natural dawn chorus. With each singer depicted in an everyday location: an underground car park, an osteopathic clinic, a bedroom, a bathtub, Dawn Chorus was as much a portrait of British people and their daily habits as it was of the natural world.
Dawn Chorus was produced in 2007. Marcus Coates worked with scientist Peter McGregor who specialises in birdsong and animal behaviour, and notable birdsong expert and wildlife sound recordist Geoff Sample. To record the dawn chorus they used a unique method to capture the individual birdsongs and their inter-species song timings. By predicting where individual birds would sing and through trial and error they recorded 14 individual songs simultaneously, thereby creating an accurate document of which species of birds sing in relation to others at what time in the morning. They recorded at three different sites in Northumberland between 3am and 9am over seven days using a 24 track digital recorder.
Dawn Chorus was originally commissioned and produced by Picture This in 2007, premiered at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and was financially supported by the Wellcome Trust. It is part of the Arts Council Collection at Southbank, who kindly loaned the work. This presentation of the work was co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
Where possible we highlighted other Brighton Festival, RSPB, BLDB and Sussex Wildlife Trust events alongside our own specially programmed exhibition events where we felt they would add insight, knowledge or enjoyment to your experience of Dawn Chorus.
Coates’ practice has questioned the ways we relate to other species. His work often documents his dark and humorous attempts to connect with, or become, an animal. His film/performance process aims to re-present definitions of humanness through the investigation of cross species consciousness. Coates completed a post graduate at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 1993 and a fellowship at the San Francisco Art Institute, USA in 1995. Has exhibited nationally and internationally and was included in the British Art Show 6. Text via Picture This.
We can only guess at what a frog or cat sees, what a dolphin or bat hears. The same world is sensed and resonates differently for different species. Whilst exploring these alien sensory worlds Marcus Coates asks questions about being human.
This is an extract from an essay, Being Bird, by Tracey Warr about Dawn Chorus – you can read the full thing on the Picture This website.