SIREN: Listening to Another Species on Earth

Annie Lewandowski, Kyle McDonald, Amy Rubin

Come dive into the creative minds of humpback whales in this epic call to beauty and action.

 

After making waves on Martha’s Vineyard and at Cornell University, Siren is coming to NYC and you can’t miss it. High-fidelity whale song recordings, a machine learning-driven light show, and an elaborate marine debris sculpture come together to create an installation you have to see and hear to believe. Sound artist Annie Lewandowski, artist and coder Kyle McDonald, and scenic designer Amy Rubin explore a meeting of intelligences—human, humpback whale, and artificial—in Siren: Listening to Another Species on Earth.

 

Siren immerses listeners in Lewandowski’s detailed recordings of humpback whale song, made with pioneering bioacoustician Katy Payne and the Hawaii Marine Mammal Consortium in 2019. Lewandowski and McDonald’s analyses of these recordings find their creative expression through McDonald’s captivating and machine learning-driven synesthetic lighting design, which is vividly projected onto Rubin’s elaborate sculpture made from marine debris recovered from the ocean around Cape Cod. The Siren installation draws audiences into a thick mix of the interior and exterior worlds of humpback singers, resulting in both a call to beauty and a call to action to protect marine mammals from entanglement.

Artist Profile

Annie Lewandowski

Annie Lewandowski is a composer, performer, and senior lecturer in the Department of Music at Cornell University. In 2017, she began studying humpback whale song with pioneering bioacoustician, Katy Payne. Lewandowski’s 2018 composition, “Cetus: Life After Life,” fur humpback whale song and chimes, explores the evolution of Hawaiian humpback song from 1977-1981. She has been awarded grants from the Atkinson Center for Sustainability for her research exploring the creative minds of humpback whales, and collaborated with Google Creative Lab to create the broadly adopted public web tool Pattern Radio: Whale Song for teaching AI to recognize patterns in humpback whale song. She has released ten recordings with her band Powerdove, and has presented her work at festivals and venues across the United States and Europe, including the Casa da Musica (Porto, Portugal), the Hippodrome (London), the Frieze Arts Fair (London), and REDCAT (Los Angeles). She is a 2014 Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow.

Artist Profile

Kyle McDonald

Kyle McDonald is an artist working with code who crafts interactive installations, sneaky interventions, playful websites, workshops, and toolkits for other artists working with code. Exploring possibilities of new technologies: to understand how they affect society, to misuse them, and build alternative futures; aiming to share a laugh, spark curiosity, create confusion, and share spaces with magical vibes. Working with machine learning, computer vision, social and surveillance tech spanning commercial and arts spaces. Previously adjunct professor at NYU’s ITP, member of F.A.T. Lab, community manager for open Frameworks, and artist in residence at STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at CMU, and YCAM in Japan. Work commissioned and shown around the world, including: the V&A, NTT ICC, Ars Electronica, Sonar, Today’s Art, and Eyebeam.

Artist Profile

Amy Rubin

Amy Rubin designs environments for theater, opera, dance, and live events. Her visual storytelling creates intimate experiences through the manipulation of space and how the audience views and interacts in the performance. Rubin’s New York credits include Octet, Thom Pain (Signature Theatre); Gloria: A Life (Daryl Roth Theatre); Miles for Mary (Playwrights Horizons); All the Fine Boys (The New Group); Aging Magician (New Victory Theater); and Ike at Night (Public Theater). Regional credits include Gloria (American Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre); Cyrano (Goodspeed Musicals); and Mahagonny/Medium (Philadelphia Opera), as well as projects at La Jolla Playhouse, Walker Arts Center, MASS MoCA, Z Space, the Kimmel Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Bushwick Starr, HERE, the Flea, Cherry Lane, 3LD, and numerous TED Talks. She previously taught at Harvard University and University of Rochester and has lectured at MIT and NYU/Tisch, where she received an M.F.A.

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