Liam Young, 26 04 12
Coal miners once hammered rock with twittering canaries living beside them, their changing song a warning alarm for a dangerous gas leak. These living sensors watched over us and kept us safe. For the fifth New Order show, London-based architect Liam Young explores a future scenario where bio-engineered birds once again monitor the air for us. 80 live birds will be introduced into the gallery as an ecological warning system, living in the space and providing audible feedback on the state of the atmosphere. Across the course of the exhibition pollution DJs will alter the air of the gallery in line with the predicted atmospheric composition of the post-carbon world. You will experience an accelerated atmospheric change and listen to the canary song subtly shift, as they sing an elegy for a changing planet. You can watch a film of one of the performances here.
Come and wander the augmented aviary of new order. With binoculars and your Birdwatchers Guidebook to Toxicity Sentinels you will be able to spot these specimens of unnatural history. Spy, high up on the rafters the green throated coal gull, bioengineered to be sensitive to increased levels of CO2. Track the infrared canaries of the Amsterdam Archaeology Institute as they scan the ground for the echoes of lost cities, see the luminescent plumage of the Roseshift Canaries as they fan their tails and sing sharply in the presence of dangerous Nitrous Oxide. Sit in the engineered ecology, watch the birds fly past and listen to their live song, a requiem for the new world order.
As a spinoff from the exhibition a new book “The Field Guide to the Singing Sentinels: A Birdwatcher’s Companion” is now availible. Co written by Liam Young, Geoff Manuagh and Tim Maly and with illustrations by comic artist Paul Duffield the field guide is a catalogue of these specimens of unnatural history including descriptions, behaviours and helpful tips for future sightings. You can see an excerpt and purchase your copy of the limited edition book online here.
[Illustration of the Red Radar by Paul Duffield]