Site specific work

The Ugly Weekender


Lapwing and circuit with bground_edited-1Last weekend I was at Ugly Weekender; a 24 hour get together of artists, performers and musicians, to explore DIY electronics, sound and design with Dirty Electronics, as part of Reactor Halls at Primary in Nottingham.

I was invited to take part after a discussion with John Richards regarding the exploration of bird identification apps and how these could be used creatively.

After meeting everyone and being treated to a wonderful and unusual banquet of food (by the 
Small Food Bakery), we had a discussion about the notion of the project and how circuits could lend themselves to a performance.

Jim Frize who designs and creates electronic musical instruments was keen to collaborate on the bird app project and had some great ideas about how we could work together, plus the technology and expertise to build 6 different circuits to represent the song/calls of 6 bird species (which the British bird ID app falsely recognised as real birds!)

These birds included:

  • Great Tit
  • Lapwing
  • Skylark
  • Sedge Warbler
  • Nightjar
  • Great spotted woodpecker

Birdsong recordings (apart from Nightjar) by Geoff Sample.
Circuit illustrations by Jim Frize.

Great spotted woodpecker and circuit with bground_edited-1The end result was a slideshow presentation which offered the audience images of birds coupled with electronic sounds created by circuits. These were followed by a series of hand drawn circuits accompanied by the sounds of real birdsong. The performance was narrated by Phillip Henderson (an artist and member of Reactor), who introduced the slideshow and read the RSPB’s birdwatchers code of conduct, followed by a brief description of the birds vocal repertoire.

The whole event was fantastic and a great opportunity to meet and collaborate with some really nice, talented people, who produced some awesome work over the 24 hour duration.

Things Ive learnt:

  • Open Office is shit for slideshows (with embedded sound)
  • Its easy to mistake a pile of clothes for someone asleep on the floor
  • Tea ice cream is lovely
  • Recording the dawn chorus after no sleep= shadow hallucinations and spying pigeons
  • There’s a lot of talented folk out there
  • Being involved in a group performance wasn’t half as scary as I thought
  • Squash is also called diluting juice
  • Birding apps aren’t always accurate

Lucy Stevens is an artist whose environmental soundscapes and visual art investigates the relationship between humanity and nature.

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