WOMEN ECO ARTISTS DIALOG

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PandorBird: Identifying the Types of Music

That May Be Favored by Our Avian

Co-Inhabitants

PandorBird: Identifying the Types of Music That May Be Favored by Our Avian Co-Inhabitants is an interactive outdoor installation that uses computer vision and interactive software to track and then play the music choices made by wild song- birds. This mobile learning system uses a novel algorithm for species identication, plays avian-favored human music, and builds a database of the musical compositions preferred by local feeder birds. Offerings in each genre of music will be chosen using standard criteria from web-based “music-discovery services,” such as melody, harmony, rhythm, form, and composition.

PandorBird, Elizabeth Demaray, 2016.

Elizabeth Demaray plugs internal audio system into PandoraBird’s Raspberry Pi.

The current system begins with a small database of different musical compositions in its dened genre. Every time a bird feeds during one of these melodies, PandoraBird will use computer vision to record its species and length of stay. If the feeding continues to the end of a piece of music, the system will select another melody with similar qualities. The presence of an individual bird at any given feeder will be logged by the listening station as a thumbs up or thumbs down, for the piece of music currently playing and this feedback will instantly rene the system’s playlist.

We are using a Raspberry Pi computer and its camera module to implement this project. The Pi is programmed to search for a network at startup. Once a network is found, it launches a bash script that starts a Python program that plays music as a background process. Currently, the program plays a xed number of tracks in a set order, but researchers at Rutgers University’s Art and Articial Intelligence Lab are currently working on creating an international database of avian favored music.

In addressing the nature of a biotope—an environment shared by multiple species where human and animal populations overlap—this project maintains that if we are to bombard other life forms with human noise, we should begin to consider which types of noise our companion species might prefer. The ultimate goal of this project is to create multiple listening stations that play different genres of human music so that local feeder birds, in our shared spaces, can make human type musical choices for themselves.

PandorBird, Elizabeth Demaray, 2016.

PandoraBird, photographed in Carrie Borgenicht garden in Philadelphia, PA on May 12, 2016

PandorBird, Elizabeth Demaray, 2016.

Demaray mounts PandoraBird’s internal camera and audio system.

My work as a sculptor focuses on the interface between the built and the natural environment. It often involves the concept of a biotope, which is a small environment where human and non- human populations overlap. It may also concern the idea of “trans-species giving,” which asserts that the commonalities between life forms are such that we may actually be able to give other organisms a “hand up,” notwithstanding our own cultural or species-specic assumptions about the natural world. In this vein, I build listening stations for birds that play human music, culture lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City, and design alternative forms of housing for land hermit crabs.

You can learn more about Elizabeth Demaray's work on her website and twitter.