The Sounds of Oth­ers, 2014

4 syn­chron­ised cus­tom built LED dis­plays with dual ste­reo audio install­a­tion. Or as a 2 chan­nel video install­a­tion with dual ste­reo audio.
32:00 mins looped
Over­all dimen­sions of the LED dis­plays; 2 units: 170 × 33 × 26.5 cm and 2 units: 170 × 40 × 64 cm

The Sounds of Oth­ers explores unex­pec­ted sim­il­ar­it­ies and con­ver­gences between the vocal­isa­tions and sounds made by dif­fer­ent spe­cies. Using cus­tom-built soft­ware, record­ings of anim­al sounds are sped up or slowed down to loc­ate a sim­il­ar­ity with sounds of oth­er unre­lated spe­cies. The changes in play­back speed of this audio are shown numer­ic­ally along with the name of the anim­al. As it is sped up, the blue whale’s sound, for example, which is nor­mally inaud­ible to humans, reveals itself as it gets high­er in pitch. At this high­er fre­quency its calls start to resemble the sounds of oth­er animals.

As the speed accel­er­ates to 115 times faster, the whale’s sound becomes short and high pitched, like a bird call. At this point a second speak­er starts to play a red­shank call. Its pitch and rhythm are extremely close to the sound of the sped up whale. As the whale sound fades away we are left hear­ing just the red­shank call which itself begins to speed up, until it increases to 7.5 times its nor­mal speed (1.00). This is uncan­nily sim­il­ar to the sound of an insect. A bush cricket’s strid­u­la­tion starts to play, it matches the speeded up red­shank sound. The cricket’s sounds in turn are slowed down to resemble a tree frog. The tree frog is slowed down to resemble an emu call, which is then com­pared to a sound a fish makes, and so on. The cycle of slow­ing and speed­ing up sounds estab­lishes an unbroken line con­nect­ing the voices of 25 spe­cies, includ­ing humans. 

Coates worked with Geoff Sample (Wild­life Sound Record­ist) to research this pro­ject, and togeth­er they listened to over 1,000 spe­cies’ calls. The Sounds of Oth­ers rep­res­ents just one example from the many lines of con­nec­tion between dif­fer­ent anim­als that they located. 

Graph designed by Fraser Mug­geridge Studio.

Spe­cies in order of appearance:

Human Adult — Amer­ic­an Alligator — Great Skua — Euras­i­an Gold­finch — Com­mon Shrew — Euras­i­an Cur­lew — White Handed Gib­bon — Atlantic Canary — Mex­ic­an Free Tailed Bats — Starlings — Human Chil­dren — Red Deer — Hump­back Whale — Reed Bunt­ing — Wed­dell Seal — Bit­tern — Blue Whale — Com­mon Red­shank — Roes­sels Bush Crick­et — European Tree Frog — Emu — Squir­relfish — Mid­ship­man (fish) — Killer whale — Sika Deer — Grey Seal Pup — Human Infant

Wild­life sound con­sult­ant: Geoff Sample

Soft­ware pro­gram­ming by Mat­thew Olden

Dis­play design and con­struc­tion by Tom Cecil

Inter­face pro­gram­ming by Andrew Smith

Tech­nic­al research by Tim Porter

Ori­gin­al record­ings from: Geoff Sample Wild­song, Dr Ian Stirl­ing, Mark McDon­ald, Reg Genev­er, John Gor­don, Richard Sav­age, Thomas Wiewandt, Arnoud B. van den Berg and Cecil­ia A.W. Bos­man, Andrew H. Bass, Dav­id Stew­art Nature Sound, Simon Elli­ot, Teo Leysson, Roger Ire­land, Kyle Turn­er, Mar­ie Fish and Wil­li­am Mow­bray, Avisoft Bioac­cous­tics, Musik­ver­lag Edi­tion AMPLE, The Brit­ish Lib­rary Sound Archive, Cor­nell Labor­at­ory of Ornithology.

Com­mis­sioned by Cape Farewell as part of the Love­lock Art Com­mis­sion Pro­duced by Museum of Sci­ence and Industry in Manchester for Manchester Sci­ence Festival.

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