Artificial Birdsong and a Virtual Choir | 24/7

Season 7, Episode 2,   Jan 06, 2020, 03:38 PM

The 24/7 podcast invites artists to explore the non-stop nature of modern life.

Refresh, reflect, reset... Artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg invites you to sit and listen to the dawn chorus, questioning how the city may sound without birds. Through the power of humming Melissa Mongiat, co-founder of Daily Tous Les Jours, highlights a metaphysical connection through music. 

Light and sound pollution from our 24-hour urban lifestyle affects birds, which are singing earlier, louder, for longer, or at a higher pitch to communicate. Some species are better at adapting to survive. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s installation in 24/7, Machine Auguries questions how the city might sound with changing, homogenising, or diminishing bird populations. Solos of chiffchaffs, great tits, redstarts, robins, thrushes, and entire dawn choruses were used to ‘train’ two neural networks – a Generative Adversarial Network, or GAN – pitted against each other to sing. Reflecting how birds develop their song from each other, a call and response spatialises the evolution of a new language, as samples of each stage (or epoch) in the GAN’s training reveals the artificial birds’ increasing realism. 

Melissa Mongiat, co-founder of Daily Tous Les Jours presents I Heard There Was a Secret Chord, a participatory humming channel that reveals an invisible connection uniting those people around the world listening to Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah. Real time user data representing the number of these listeners is transformed into a virtual choir – each online listener represented by a humming voice in the space. These sounds are transformed into low frequency vibrations as you start humming along, allowing you to feel a collective resonance. The work is both a scientific and a spiritual experiment, highlighting the metaphysical connection between people on a common wavelength. 

Featuring contributions from exhibition curator Sarah Cook and Jonathan Reekie, co-curator of 24/7 and Director of Somerset House. 

The exhibition 24/7 - A Wake Up Call For Our Non-Stop World at Somerset House takes visitors on a multi-sensory journey from the cold light of the moon to the fading warmth of sunset through five themed zones and contains over 50 multi-disciplinary works that will provoke and entertain. The exhibition runs at Somerset House until 23 February 2020

Producer: Eleanor Scott
Sound Design: Harry Murdoch
Mixed by Nick Ryan

Machine Auguries Credits
Multi-channel sound installation 
Machine Learning: Dr Przemek Witaszczyk (Faculty) / Sound design: Chris Timpson (Aurelia Soundworks) / Research/Design: Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Johanna Just, Ness Lafoy, Ana Maria Nicolaescu / Lighting design: Lucy Carter / Associate to Lucy Carter: Sean Gleason / Production: Angharad Cooper / AV: KSO 
With thanks to Chris Watson, Geoff Sample, The British Library, Sara Keen, Xeno-canto, Professor Ben Sheldon, Maria Diaz and Dr John Mansir of Faculty and Karishma Rafferty 
Courtesy of the artist 
Commissioned by Somerset House and A/D/O by MINI. With additional support from Faculty and the Adonyeva Foundation