Mono audio, column speaker, metal, 10 minutes, repeated with variations, 2022
The lyrebird’s condition is to mimic, to broadcast acoustic memories of the surrounding world. Through listening to the calls of the lyrebird, we get a sense of what lies hidden, unheard or ignored in the forests across south-eastern Australia: the sound-making activities of avian and occasional human cohabitants. The lyrebird’s mimicry is a form of sonic data collection with parallels to scientific research.
Leber and Chesworth imagine that a local Yarra Valley lyrebird (‘Buln Buln’ in the Woiwurrung language) has taken up residence, repeating back the sounds of the surrounding environment.
Lyrebirdity incorporates the sounds of lyrebirds imitating currawongs, grey shrike-thrushes, golden whistlers, king parrots, kookaburras, satin bowerbirds, thornbills and wattlebirds. The vocalisations include human-related sounds such as whistling, conversation, camera shutters, car alarms, chainsaws and construction sounds.
Sonia Leber and David Chesworth: Where Lakes Once Had Water, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Australia (2022)
Supported by the School of Art at RMIT University. Commissioned by TarraWarra Museum of Art
Installation views at TarraWarra Museum of Art by Andrew Curtis