What you'll hear in the Fern Room is Night Songs for the Birds of North America by JOSHUA DUMAS—a four-channel exploration of translation, memory, and mass extinction in the anthropocene. The piece is built in two layers: first, Dumas arranged six common human lullabies (challenging himself to do so from memory) for surround sound installation, stretching the songs' durations to an hour’s length. These repeat on a soft, hazy loop, drifting in and out. Then, using research from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Macaulay Library at Cornell University, Dumas gathered the calls and songs of the 73 North American avian species considered vulnerable, endangered, critically threatened, or extinct. Dumas (piano, percussion), WHITNEY JOHNSON (strings), and JOSH BELL (horns) transcribed, interpreted, and improvised in response to these calls. The resulting melodic fragments—representing the calls of the most threatened bird species—will play throughout the Fern Room, gradually degrading over the course of the duration of the exhibition, and becoming wind.
Dumas has compiled supplementary materials and links for Night Songs on a blog:
Curated by the staff of Experimental Sound Studio for its Florasonic sound installation series, a partnership with the Chicago Park District’s Lincoln Park Conservatory.
Sunday, January 22, 3-5pm
About the Artist
JOSHUA DUMAS is a sound artist, composer, and filmmaker in Chicago and Brooklyn. He has scored dance and theatre for Lydian Junction, Dages Juvelier Keates, Lost Geneva Projects, Roosevelt University, Amélie Gaulier-Brody and more. His work has been presented at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Knockdown Center, the Watermill Center, the New School, High Concept Labs, Triskelion, and more. He recently scored the film Jessica which won Best Feature at the Chelsea International Film Fest. He has two new releases for his collaboration with Kate Adams, Mending. He performs with Weatherman, and created the generative music app Chicago Avenue Moon.
Florasonic is a unique program that commissions composers and artists to make new site-specific music and audio art installations for the Fern Room of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a turn-of-the-century greenhouse. Curated by ESS staff, Florasonic presents each project for three to five months, visited by an estimated 500 to 1,000 people each day.