In memory of the sparrows

Another prototype spotted at the RCA work in progress show a few weeks ago in London. This week: In Memory of the Sparrow


As new wireless technologies are introduced, using various frequencies and power levels, an invisible energy is increasingly altering our habitat. There are no conclusive results from research to indicate the influence of this energy on our health or our environment, but studies have shown that sparrow populations are decreasing in areas that are affected by electromagnetic communication.

In her scenario, Cathrine Kramer portrays a day when we will walk through a park and meet with an eerie silence. All the birds have disappeared due to an increase of electromagnetic radiation in the urban environment. Inspired by the ‘foxhole radio‘. These simple radios, popular among soldiers during the World War II, need mainly electromagnetic waves as a source of energy.

The object harnesses the very force that drove birds away, and transforms it into subtle bird-like sounds, acting both as a comfort to those who want to remember the sparrows, but also as a poignant reminder that our surroundings contain a level of complexity that surpasses our senses. They are “memorial to the sparrows.”

I asked Cathrine how exactly the bird-like sound was created. “In the exhibition the bird sound was orchestrated, because to work the radio would have to be grounded and this was not possible within the exhibition space,” she explained. “However, in the future scenario I envisioned, these memorials would be mounted to trees and tuned to pick up bird sounds transmitted on an AM frequency bandwidth. The antenna would be a long wire spiraling up the tree to pick up the radio waves.”

All images courtesy of Cathrine Kramer.