18 March 2010
looking for love in all the wrong places
i went down to the barbican on thursday night. to the curve gallery, to see the installation by celeste boursier mougenot. the one with all the zebra finches playing instruments. there are about twelve or so horizontally mounted guitars, some of them bass guitars, some of them les pauls. and then there are some upturned cymbals, some of them have got water in and some of them have got bird seed in. and the zebra finches fly around you, flitting between the instruments and when they land on the guitar strings they inadvertently pluck them or scrape them, and they peck the cymbals with their beaks too. all the guitars and the cymbals are going through amplifiers and it sounds amazing. i think if there was a recording of it and i had to file it somewhere in a record shop i'd probably put it under 'post-rock'. it's certainly experimental, but really quite beautiful too. a bit like some of mogwai's more delicate moments. all the birds seemed pretty happy. i think they kind of liked being in a band.
i did see two birds that made me a bit sad though. the floor of the gallery has got sand on and marram grasses planted in it, and these two birds were picking up bits of twigs and grasses in their beaks and carrying them back up to one of the les pauls. it was obviously a doomed attempt to build a nest on the pick up of the guitar. the bits of nest just kept slipping off. it was so sad and frustrating. i left the gallery feeling a bit worried for the two of them. i comforted myself with the thought that they were just trying to build a nest for fun, because building nests is just something that zebra finches like to do from time to time.
but then i read in the newspaper this morning that on tuesday night the gallery was hurriedly closed because an egg had been laid on the frets of one of the guitars. no wonder they were trying to build that nest so desperately. apparently at one point the egg rolled perilously close to the edge of the guitar, before it stopped still and was able to be taken away to an aviary by the breeder so that another bird could sit on the egg until it hatched.
i think i might have to go down to the barbican again to see it while it's still on. it really is a lovely thing to experience. and they've installed boxes in the gallery now so that the birds can nest if they want to. i just hope it doesn't get in the way of the band.