Birds!

“Birds Singing Other Birds’ Songs” is a unique artistic endeavor based on language and sound, using animated type used as the primary visually element. After a number of encounters with this playful piece, I do not fully understand what I am supposed to take away from it, but as visual art I found it really charming in a quirky sort of way. Composition is a vital component in this piece. The way that words are used to phonetically describe different bird sounds in multiple configurations, all connecting to create the shape of a bird, was really unique. Watching the animated birds in flight across the screen, and “sing” the text that is used as their building block is really effective in drawing the viewer into the piece itself. Human voices are used to recreate the birds’ songs, each song plays as the form of the bird unfolds. While it may defeat the purpose of the piece, I found watching the animations more enjoyable without the audio, as the sound did become unpleasant to the ear rather quickly.

Using a variety of fonts, Mencia’s birds fly across the screen overtop a bright blue background in motion, filled with images of clouds, portraying the sky as the interface in which the birds are immersed in. While some of the birds are created and formed by text as the outline, others appear almost instantly on the screen fully formed, but with text inside them, that text emulating the sound the human voice is trying to recreate. While each bird moves in a slightly different way from the others, I found it interesting that all of the birds were created using black or white text with the exception of the fourth bird, which contained a number of bright coloured letters as well as black ones. This bird in particular falls together very slowly to form its bird shape, and a few moments after it does the letters fall away. Twelve different configurations of different birds, all using different sizes and sound words enabled the work to come to life on the screen, all within the click of a button at the bottom of the screen. This piece enabled a lot of user freedom, which was a perk; I enjoyed being able to start up and stop each bird at my leisure. Being able to play multiple bird animations simultaneous also brought new experiences while exploring through this piece.

Like most electronic literature I have recently encountered, I had to let go of any traditional standards of poetry and literature I had to enjoy this piece by Maria Mencia, particularly from a visual perspective. “Birds Singing Other Birds’ Songs” may have enabled difficulties in regards to interpretation, however, that carefree element of getting ‘lost in translation’ was a breath of fresh air.

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