Augmented Blackbird


The common blackbird (a species of thrush found throughout Europe and Asia) has a syrinx with two chambers for producing sound. Exquisite neuromuscular control gives this creature the ability to sing two notes simultaneously or in rapid alternation, producing complex inharmonic spectra and intermodulation effects that psychoacoustically manifest in as many as four pitches.

In the culture of blackbirds, this is a territorial mating call, sonic cartography with the intention of virtuosically demonstrating where the boundaries lie in one bird’s solicitation to another for the purpose of homesteading.

In our animation sequence, the double-chambered bird transcends its ordinary carbon-based reality in exchange for the realm of the digital imaginary, slipping from outside to inside, from tree to trachea. All sounds began as actual blackbird field recordings.

Marlena Novak and Jay Alan Yim are frequent collaborators — under the name localStyle, whose intermedia projects have been presented in many cities (including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Belgrade, Berlin, Bruxelles, Budapest, Chicago, Eindhoven, Köln, London, Mexico City, New York, Santa Fe, São Paolo, Sydney, Szczecin, Taipei, Tel Aviv, Torino, Toronto, Valencia, Warsaw). A recurrent theme in their work is the exploration of how territories and boundaries are constructed, interpreted, and negotiated, via topics as varied as the mating behavior of hermaphroditic marine flatworms, and the sonification of electric fish from the Amazon.


Roy Bicknell

10 August at 07:27PM


Fascinating how localStyle seem to unlock the complexity of the blackbird call, creating something similar yet new in this hypnotic sequence. Who wouldn't want to see the territorial song of the blackbird twice translated as it speeds into space?


03 October at 01:10AM

Incredible description. WTF is with everyone and birds!

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