In Dawn Chorus, Marcus Coates records participants singing along to extremely slowed down bird calls, which he then alters to play at what would be normal speed for the birdsongs. Through video and audio manipulation, he transforms his participants into birds; what is so awesome about this piece is that the participants are not only transformed sonically, but visually as well, with normal human movements like breathing and gesturing becoming erratic and frenzied like a bird’s.
Coates’ piece is ridiculous, startling, and humorous, but never sarcastic; by recreating a dawn chorus with entirely human voices, he challenges our relationship with animals, the existence of the animal itself, and the perception of the human body as something separate or transcendent of (capital-N) Nature. Instead, I think his work seeks a unification of the animal and the human, or rather a redefinition of the human as animal.
Ironically, that’s all achieved through technology…which is the start of a whole discussion, and is where I’ll stop for now!