title_ Birdsong

date_ 2006

materials_ Assembly of taxidermised bird specimens from the Australian Museum, suspended acrylic ring, sounds of birdcalls and wing flutters.

exhibited_ Object Gallery, Sydney, Australia

exhibition audio_ Ross Gibson in collaboration with Jane and Philip Ulman

photos_ Keith Saunders

text_ Thinking about titles to conjure sleep, dream, birdsong, waking…

To create an immersive, engaging enchanting work within the central space of the gallery utilising the truss circle as the basic design element under which the other elements of the installation grow/ spill out/ encircle within.

Borrowing and displaying a large array of ornithology specimens from the Australian Museum enables the exhibition to evoke a sense of wonder and sweet sadness. The ability to view the specimens intimately, at eye height, gives the possibility of drawing a viewer into their being, their loss and their presence.

Two overlapping arcs of polished reflecting acrylic – broken sections of rings – are suspended in the space by a series of vertical lines of cable, visually ghosting a birdcage. The birds lie side by side around the circular ‘beds’, sleeping and dreaming in death. They’re carefully placed, their feathered bodies encircled with tiny rings bearing words written by the artist, and their specimen tags attached bearing the words written by scientists who use the dead to understand the living.

The concept of enchanting, of singing into being – of presence and absence and a circle of viewing is enhanced through the multi-speaker sound installation exploiting the extraordinary mimicry of the Australian Lyrebird. Through the spatial layout of the speaker system and the activity of viewers in the space, the soundscape creates zones of silence and sound/ singing including an outside zone of calling/singing one in.