Dawn Chorus

This multi-screen video installation by British artist Marcus Coates is both hilarious and fascinating. To create the videos for the project, Coates took slowed-down birdcalls and taught various people to sing them in their slowed-down state. He then filmed them singing the songs in ordinary situations or 'habitats' and sped up the footage again so the birdcalls are at normal speed again. The result is remarkably similar to the original.

dawnchoruscoates2.jpeg Click on the picture to see the entire installation in sequence and read a more detailed description of the process.

Coates' collaborator on the project, wild-life sound recordist Geoff Sample has posted a bunch of great clips of the bird-songs slowed down by increasing factors here.

Sample explains: "Birds are thought to have a finer temporal discrimination of sounds than humans. This means they hear the individual elements of composite sounds that for us appear as a single blurred sound. Their hearing may have up to eight times the temporal resolution that ours can achieve. One way getting some impression of this is by slowing down bird sounds; the simple way of doing this also lowers the pitch of the sound by the same factor and this is a fascinating way of tuning in to the hidden depth of birdsong, a kind of transformation to a more human musical sensibility."