Support Material (RAF)
Work in development
The Zebra Finch
a work in development
The Zebra Finch will be my key research focus and subject of interest during my residency with Watch This Space in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) The Zebra Finch is a complex being with many fascinating behaviours. Due to its short breeding cycle and resilience, it is easily bred in captivity, making it one of the most highly studied bird species in the world. In particular, it has become a popular specimen in contemporary neuroscientific research, with universities worldwide housing and studying the Zebra Finch in order to comprehend unsolved neurological questions. Developments in this field have led to a point where scientists studying the neurology of the Zebra Finch are being recruited by Silicon Valley in order to advance research in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Large Language Models and Brain-Machine Interfacing.
Currently, thousands of individual Zebra Finches live and perish in laboratories across the globe, giving their lives without consent in order to advance the ambitions of human scientific endeavour. The story of the Zebra Finch has captured my attention: over the years, my practise has placed an emphasis on revealing the unique agency of non-human creatures while drawing attention to our responsibility towards these lifeforms as caretakers in a world that is rapidly changing and degrading.
The Zebra Finch holds a highly relevant place within the overall themes of my exhibition, 'Uttering & Earthly,' at Goolugatup Heathcote; recent scientific findings have demonstrated that there is an acoustic richness embedded in Zebra Finch vocalizations which is available to them and yet out of reach for human listeners. In this work, one of my primary creative ambitions will be to share the complex vocalisations of the Zebra Finch to create a didactic and immersive experience which catalyses audience empathy, dissolves the human-animal linguistic hierarchy, and raises awareness about the plight of the Zebra Finch species worldwide.
Through the years I have tried to ensure that my art practise is environmentally sensitive, and I am always looking for ways to create physical artworks without relying on purchasing imported materials harvested from potentially problematic or untraceable sources. Recently, I have been working on harvesting and processing wild clay from my local area. As part of my exhibition with Goolugatup Heathcote, I want to craft a selection of ceramic instruments (ocarinas, see above for examples) in the shape of various Australian bird species, including the Zebra Finch. These works will connect with the overall themes of the exhibition, touching specifically on the influence of non-humans and human music on the origins of spoken language. With the assistance of this Fellowship, I would like to take extensive time to explore and experiment with wild clay, ash glazing, sculpting and refining the design of these ocarinas so that they can function as playable instruments within my proposed exhibition.
The above image demonstrates some of my recent experiments with different varieties of wild clay combined with different applications of ash glaze. I need more time to experiment in order to discover the subtle properties of this clay, to ensure the glaze achieves full effect without causing fractures in the clay during firing.