Twittering Machines

The word ‘tweet’ is perhaps starting to be more associated with technological communication than the natural association with birdsong: its meaning may be under threat, just as the habitats of birds are threatened by humans. Kathy Hinde responds to this double dilemma with Twittering Machines, which renders John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale in Morse code, then uses multiple output devices to interfere with the transmission, simultaneously redoubling it and struggling to translate the bleeps back into recognisable language. Meanwhile, recordings of birdsong are treated to generate further distortions and interference. The effect is of a swirling, chattering dawn chorus of birdsong, real and artificial – a reminder of how technology can overrun the natural, and of what we stand to lose if it does.