Dawn Chorus

“We can only guess at what a frog or cat sees, what a dolphin or bat hears. The same world is sensed and resonates differently for different species”.


Dawn Chorus

For this spring exhibition we worked with Brighton Festival to co-present Dawn Chorus by Marcus Coates.

Dawn Chorus was an immersive multi-screen film installation that used unique digital methods to explore the relationship between birdsong and the human voice, and similarities between bird and human behaviour.

Nineteen individual singers uncannily recreated birdsong and bird movement. Together they formed a chorus that accurately simulated the sounds and timings of a natural dawn chorus. With each singer depicted in an everyday location: an underground car park, an osteopathic clinic, a bedroom, a bathtub, Dawn Chorus was as much a portrait of British people and their daily habits as it was of the natural world.

Dawn Chorus was produced in 2007. Marcus Coates worked with scientist Peter McGregor who specialises in birdsong and animal behaviour, and notable birdsong expert and wildlife sound recordist Geoff Sample. To record the dawn chorus they used a unique method to capture the individual birdsongs and their inter-species song timings. By predicting where individual birds would sing and through trial and error they recorded 14 individual songs simultaneously. Thereby creating an accurate document of which species of birds sing in relation to others at what time in the morning. They recorded at three different sites in Northumberland between 3am and 9am over seven days using a 24 track digital recorder.

Dawn Chorus was originally commissioned and produced by Picture This in 2007, premiered at BALTIC Cebtre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and was financially supported by the Wellcome Trust. It is part of the Arts Council Collection at Southbank, who kindly loaned the work. This presentation of the work was co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Where possible we highlighted other Brighton FestivalRSPB, BLDB and Sussex Wildlife Trust events alongside our own specially programmed exhibition events where we felt they would add insight, knowledge or enjoyment to your experience of Dawn Chorus

Total Visitor Numbers: 19,034


Exhibition Visitor Comments

Very interesting and Unique. Nothing like I’ve ever seen before. The way they’ve captured the sounds is beautiful

Absolutely brilliant, fascinating. I spend a lot of time birdwatching and it has made me see birds differently. And it’s just incredible that you can hear each birdsong perfectly accurately from a human voice

A real tweet!


Image Gallery

Photographs by Tom Thistlethwaite