Groove along with the finches
Sarah Unwin Jones on Jupiter Artland’s intriguing installation
YOU know that summer is on its way when Jupiter Artland opens its doors for the season. The sun is shining on the 100 acre outdoor sculpture park, fresh green leaves are on the trees and the birds are singing. Some of them are even playing the guitar. What else would they be doing in a contemporary art venue?
The finches are the “headline act”, as it were, of Jupiter Artland’s spring programme, part of an ongoing series now in its 20th incarnation made by the artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenet. This charm of 40 zebra finches takes a childhood memory of birds perched on wires and turns it into music. Indeed, Boursier-Mougenet trained as a musician and composer, and has spent much of his artistic life finding music where others don’t, from colliding crockery in a paddling using manipulated currents to engineering a room full of grand pianos to slide around without crashing into each other.
“From Hear to Ear, v.30” is no different, an installation of 10 white guitars and four black basses, lined up in the grass-studded sand. The birds, chittering, shuffle and perch on the wires and fretboards of the guitars, sliding inadvertently from note to note, plucking the strings as they take off, the sound resonating in an abstract rock cacophony. They bustle up on their impromptu perches, or scuffle in the sand on the floor, creating their own hierarchies. One couple have started to build a nest on a guitar. They may mate despite the roar of man-and-bird-made sound – the charm installed in London’s Barbican laid 64 eggs the last time the work was seen in the UK. This is life writ small played out in sound.
And yet if these lovely finches are putatively in charge of the “tune” (no signature styles yet, note) nothing is left to chance, although the Jupiter Artland setting is a gift, and must be one of the