When Mimicry is the Last Song Left. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion
What messages are coded through the nonhuman voice? How do animals witness, record, and replay the sounds of anthropogenic incursion? How might their calls pluralize human narratives of extinction and biodiversity loss? This talk will consider bird mimicry as an agential and unsettling sonic facsimile, sent live and direct from The Field. Mark Peter Wright, postdoctoral researcher at CRiSAP, University of the Arts, London, shares his research.
Nonhuman voices are often associated with notions of a “great animal orchestra”. Howls, calls, and songs, heard through traditions of soundscape studies and acoustic ecology, are studied through musical filters that remain suspiciously human. Western centric obsessions with tone and harmony further transpose animal agency into scalable models or representations, guided by a privilege towards the virtuoso songster or collaborative chorus. What else might lurk beyond the triangulation of birdsong, music, and science? What performative utterances might glitch these constructed naturalisms and what are the consequent strains for listening and learning?
In this talk Mark Peter Wright will present three examples of bird mimicry that transmit extra-linguistic commentary on anthropogenic climate change. He will amplify the political ecology of nonhuman sound by interlacing issues of expertise, witnessing, and the responsibilities embroiled in multi-sited fieldwork.
About the speaker
Mark Peter Wright is an artist-researcher working at the intersection of sound arts, experimental pedagogy and critical theory. His practice investigates relations of capture and mediation between humans and nonhumans, sites and technologies, observers and subjects. Ongoing questions include: how does environmental sound convey complex geopolitical meaning? How can technology be practiced with an eco-critical sensitivity and how might listening operate beyond the human? Working between the field and lab, site and gallery, audible and inaudible, he is committed to amplifying forms of power and agency within the creative use of documentary media and site-based praxis.
About the event series
The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.
Photo credit: independent.ie