Accepted paper:

Silent Spring 2.0: the absence of birdsong in ornithology and sound art


Patricia Jäggi (University of Applied Sciences and Arts - Lucerne)

Paper short abstract:

By looking at current discussions in ornithology and environmental sound art the contribution looks at the influence of climate change on biophonies such as the absence of birdsong.

Paper long abstract:

By starting with Rachel Carson's environmental classics "The Silent Spring" (1962), the planned contribution brings the absence of sounds such as the absence of birdsong into view. In the recently started research project "Seeking Birdscapes - Contemporary Listening and Recording Practices in Ornithology and Environmental Sound Art" we investigate the perception of birdsong in the context of contemporary sound art, ornithology and ecology. Climate change influences specific bird populations in different ways (Pearce-Higgins/Green 2014). Unlike Carson's pesticide dystopia of the 1960s, the soundscape of the anthropocene will not simply become more quiet but due to the different chances of species survival (i. e. reduction of biodiversity) may diminish in its richness. Sound artists and composers such as David Monacchi (Fragments of Extinction) started to document and creatively work with field recordings of (still) highly biodiverse landscapes to raise awareness of our natural sonic environment. By looking at current discussions in ornithology and environmental sound art I would like to focus on the influence of climate change on so-called biophonies. My contribution will address the following questions: How can the creeping absence or loss of individual living entities be grasped scientifically and artistically? Do discussions on climate change also require a new understanding and evaluation of the concept of absence (and, thus, of related terms such as silence or emptiness)?

panel C05
Climart: imagining and communicating climate change through artistic practice