Zebra Finches Become a “Flock of Songwriters” in a Room Full of Electric Guitars

From Here to Ear by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

When you think of bird songs you probably imagine sweet-sounding tweets, cheeps, and chirps. Our feathered friends can create beautiful sounds when they sing, but what if they got their claws on some instruments? Inspired by this idea, French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot created a space that allows birds to interact with 14 amplified guitars. His sound project, titled From Here to Ear, sees 70 zebra finches create unique sounds as they flutter, perch, and hop on the strings.

For the touring exhibition, Boursier-Mougenot turns the gallery space into an aviary. The 70 birds have plenty of space to fly, nest, and explore as they unknowingly create ambient sound. With a variety of whistles and calls, zebra finches are known to be very vocal. When in a room with multiple instruments, their natural sounds are beautifully complemented with the guitar twangs. Visitors can walk through the space and experience the sounds from various areas of the room.

So far, the show traveled to New York, Paris, Milan, and Montreal. For an early version of the exhibition shown in Paris, Boursier-Mougenot captured the birds himself and set them free after their 10-day performance. At all exhibits, a vet also comes each day to check on the health of the birds.

Boursier-Mougenot had wanted to create the project since his childhood. “Looking through the window, my feeling was that I want to make music from these birds on the wire,” he recalls. “And 30 years later I did this.” The artist claims that he had problems learning to play instruments throughout his life, so he wanted to invent his own method for making sound. By using the birds, he allows them to decide how and when the notes will be played. Boursier-Mougenot explains, “I often say for this piece that I have ‘flying fingers.’”

Check out clips from the sound installation below.

For Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's sound project, From Here to Ear, 70 zebra finches create unique sounds as they interact with 14 amplified guitars.

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot: Facebook
h/t: [Laughing Squid]

All images via Céleste Boursier-Mougenot.

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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