There’s already been a couple of mentions in my posts this week of the Dead Rat Orchestra…group member Nathaniel Mann in particular. Nathaniel is currently the composer in residence for the Pitt Rivers Museum (www.prm.ox.ac.uk/) at the University of Oxford which is home to some of the most important collections of ethnography and archaeology in the world. As a composer in residence one of Nathaniel’s roles is to respond to those objects and ‘bring them back to life’. When he first visited the museum about ten years ago he spotted an object that just said ‘Chinese Pigeon Whistle’, well now he has the opportunity to respond as part of the Audible Forces Exhibition which features an intricate landscape of musical installations powered by the wind. Intriguing kinetic, sonic creations produce other-worldly sounds as nature’s unseen force breathes life into them.
Some of you may have heard the unusual sound that these whistles produce when the pigeons are in flight on a recent Nest Collective Hour here on Folk Radio UK. The pigeons used are a very cherished and special breed of domesticated pigeon called Birmingham Rollers. For this project the birds were bred and trained by Peter Petravicius known as Pigeon Pete. They are trained, upon release, to return to a mobile loft which is painted in polkadots which they recognise whilst in flight thus enabling the project to be taken on tour. The project takes its inspiration from centuries old traditions from both Indonesia and China. Pigeon Whistles, also known as Pigeon Flutes, are small, lightweight whistles carried harmlessly upon the tail feathers of pigeons, and borne through the air to create a beautiful haunting sound…pigeon flight drawn in sound across the sky.
You can capture the experience yourself on Friday 21st June as part of OCM’s Audible Forces Touring Exhibition at the Greenwich & Docklands Festival.
Location: Greenwich Park, London.
Audible Forces runs 12-8pm (Fri/Sat) 12-6pm (Sun).
Ten Birmingham Roller Pigeons trained by Pigeon Pete fly with bespoke Pigeon Whistles, made from recycled plastics soar overheard during a short flight.
Also within the exhibition Aeolian Sculptures by:
Max Eastley, Jony Eaterby, Kathy Hinde, Mark Anderson, Mike Blow & Dan Fox.
Festival Site: www.festival.org/whatson/59/audible-forces/