The site in Plymouth was near where Darwin set sail in The Beagle, so I decided to make a temporary installation based on his chapter ‘Means of Dispersal’ in The Origin of Species. I used a wonderful quote as my title: “I forced many kinds of seeds into the stomachs of dead fish, and then gave their bodies to fishing-eagles, storks, and pelicans”.
The piece consisted of two silver trays filled (and re-filled) with birdseed and wildflower seed (and chips to lure seagulls), attached to contact mics and to mini amplifiers at a 5 metre distance. The birds warily approached and began pecking at the trays, generating a pulsing rhythmic noise for the 4-hour duration.
The piece was popular with local dog-walkers, one of which offered me some bread for the pigeons whom he fed every Sunday. The downside to having visible cables was that one small girl thought I was trying to electrocute the birds!
Here’s a 1m12s audio extract with pigeons feeding:
Extract from ‘I forced many kinds of seeds…’