Birdsong System

2022 | DES 130 | Design Ecology w/Allison Earl

Birdsong exists on every continent penetrating through all spaces, no matter where the song birds are located. Whether they are in sight or out of sight, birdsong remains ubiquitous within every environment on earth. Birdsong is the world’s only, and most beautiful form of natural “music”. Even the world’s greatest classical composers were inspired by none other than these special creatures. Their melodies and rhythms become embedded into our minds, influencing some of us to create and express our own “human song” in response. It is fair to say that many human songs are inspired by birdsong. There are even certain birds that are inspired by human songs and mimic our sounds as their own, thus creating an alternate feedback loop in an intertwined system of birdsong and human song.

Through song, there is a subtle and invisible symbiotic relationship between birds and humans as we introduce sound into space. Our species’ songs emerge through harmony. Not only musically, but also existentially.

When humans and birds peacefully coexist in a viable ecosystem, we do not pose a threat to each other and our songs. However, when the coexistence of birds and humans is in dissonance, careless human activity towards birds and habitats thwarts the presence of their precious songs. Many birdsongs have already been lost forever, some unable to live long enough to reach a human ear and inspire a human song.

On this postcard, I created a juxtaposition of six sonographs of the songs of six common Vancouver birds: the black capped chickadee, common starling, dark-eyed junco, northern flicker, red-winged blackbird, and the song sparrow. It is difficult to treat something as invisible and intangible as birdsong to be something delicate. Through this visualization of sound, I hope to emphasize the need to cherish the fragile system of birdsong.