The Genre Project: Listening Stations for Birds that Play Human Music is an outdoor installation that invites birds to respond to different genres of human music. This project acknowledges that birds in urban settings are routinely bombarded by human noise and circumstantial evidence shows that many avian species pay attention to it. In the Northern Hemisphere cat birds and mockingbirds replicate sounds made by people. In Australia, the lyre bird even learns human tunes and teaches them to successive generations of its young. However, no one has studied what kinds of human music our avian companion species might enjoy.
The Genre Project addresses this lack of human knowledge by creating system designed for birds that plays human song. This project involves the installation of three “listening stations,” that each play a different genre of human music. Each listening station is comprised of an audio hood, a sound system, and a covered tray of wild bird food. While the Genre Project will be available for humans to watch on a live-feed at ISEA 2020, the ultimate goal of this artwork is to allow our avian companion species to select the kinds of music that they prefer in our shared environment.
Elizabeth Demaray builds listening stations for birds that play human music, cultures lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City, and designs alternative forms of housing for hermit crabs. Demaray is head of the concentrations in Intermedia and Sculpture in the Department of Visual Media and Performing Arts at Rutgers-Camden and an adviser in the Art and Artificial Intelligence Lab at Rutgers-New Brunswick.