Jacqui O’Reilly

A bird’s got to sing

Sound, video, 2:54 min.

A bird’s got to sing is a tribute to the Silvereye bird, also known as the Zosterops lateralis, often found in local urban areas in NSW as well as other parts of Australia and New Zealand.

Many studies in the field of Behavioural Ecology research the impact of urbanisation on birds and how urban noise is masking the sound of birdsong. The Silvereye has adapted to urban noise by singing higher and louder, sustaining essential communication within its species. This demonstration of resilience from such a small bird, with tiny vocal cords and lungs has touched me deeply. It’s not easy to sing high and I feel encouraged to continue to elevate my own voice to use as material in my praxis.

When you get close to someone or something, you care about your impact on them. I wanted to get close to this bird through sampling its song and singing with it. The resulting duet represents the many shared ecologies that exist in the more-than-human world, as well as drawing attention to one example of current anthropogenic impact.

Originally designed to be projected onto the floor as an installation, A bird’s got to sing inverts the experience of a bird being ‘up there’ in the sky and not part of our immediate shared ecosystem. It also represents the downward direction of our impact – grounding, moulding and constricting many aspects of the environment. My voice embodies this loss and I hope this affect may move the observer to realise we are all very much part of the subject of this work. Original video footage by Tony Palmer.

Listen with headphones for best results. For mobiles view horizontal and full screen.

Jacqui O’Reilly is a Sydney based artist with an emerging ecomedia art practice. She creates sound and video performance and installations, heavily sampling her own voice with sounds from the more-than-human world.


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