The song pole is a listening device by which the visitor is encouraged to reflect on the act of listening itself. It is a bird box designed to provide a nesting site for Great Tits or Tree Sparrows during the spring time. A microphone provides the aural equivalent of a microscope and listening closely to the intricate detail of the nesting box’s sound-world, it becomes possible to hear the intimate habits of the nesting birds.
When the birds are not nesting, the song pole acts as an ‘ode to absence’, a monument or ‘totem’ to the sound it celebrates and is designed to act as a catalyst to listening, inviting visitors to reflect both on the absence of the birds that will come to nest in it while also suggesting reflection on the sounds that surround them.
A specially commissioned text by Larry Lynch is routed into the pole and takes as its point of departure themes of sound and absence. The oversized lettering makes deliberate reference to the way-markers found along country paths. The Songpole also provides a sign to passers by, to listen to the nuances of birds’ songs in all their guises.
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