Performing nature unnaturally

Matthew Bannister / Vicki Kerr

  • Opening Preview: 4pm, Tuesday 21 February 2023
  • Exhibition runs: 21 Feb — 10 March 2023

This multimedia exhibition explores overlaps between bird calls and human modes of communication through music and photography genres.

A characteristic of our current relation to birds is their growing unavailability due to the degradation of ecosystems and threats from predators. Taking their cue from birds inhabiting the coast of Aotearoa/New Zealand, visual artist Vicki Kerr and musician Matthew Bannister have created a sound/image installation reflecting research into how we might communicate and cooperate with these precious taonga.

Speculating upon avian communication and what birds can tell us, Bannister and Kerr explore how sound and image – listening, viewing - attaches us to one another and to our environments. Electroacoustic music sampling methods are applied to bird vocalisation and the rhythmic patterns of bird calls, producing sound composed through the voice of the bird - a human response to the ‘other’ in jointly formed compositions, reflecting an evolving relationship between composer and bird.

Responding to the sound works, bird-related images culled from online searches, books and archives are digitally manipulated. With no apparent logic, structure or order, these images are intuitively situated in new contexts to provoke new possibilities of meaning. Working together with sound they become a complex system of associations and references, encouraging audiences to build paratactic meaning among fragments tethered together in an act of ‘translation’ between human and non-human realms.