found objects, wire, galvanized pipe, branches, springs, passing birds

This drawing machine lets the birds generate the drawings.
Pencils are attached to wire pieces, sprung within a framework, ending in small attached branches. As the birds go about their exploring and feeding, landing and sitting on the branches, they move the pencils about and create their drawings.
(additional drawing machines may be seen here.)

the birds

The first birds to arrive and fully explore the new contraption in the neighborhood were the Juncos (Junco hyemalis oreganus), the 'Oregon Group' of the Dark-eyed Junco (which I still end up calling the 'Oregon Junco' because that's what it was called, and how I learned its name, when I was a kid).

la machine

The machine is just over six feet tall.
The branches are sidled up to a feeder so there's a bit more reason for the birds to participate.
It requires a fairly soft lead to get much in the way of a drawing. Some early tests came out very light - appropriate for a drawing by a bird I thought, but not much to see for their faintness of mark.

The first couple tests and initial drawings featured juncos, house finches, one scrub jay and the occasional acorn woodpecker (the woodpeckers never touched the machine, just swooped in with a flare, scattered the finches, and ate their fill at the feeder). The most active and seemingly fearless participants were the juncos, sometimes in pairs, often in whole groups.

One of the initial drawings
02 February 2009

the video

video of the proceedings

the sound of the drawings

The drawings looked like scores to me, reminiscent of John Cage.

After a bit of looking about I came across this wonderful site that features the vOICe Java applet/application that was written by Peter B.L. Meijer (the potential uses for this tool are remarkable). The basic application allows for the translation of a graphic image into sound.

After a few adjustments to frequency, to get the range into that of a typical bird song, and duration, the results were then run through an audio program to clean up hiss and adjust amplitude.

[This next section should use your computer's resident audio player to display & play embedded mp3 files.]

This is the resultant sound of the drawing from 01 February 2009
two juncos (1 male & 1 female)
if no player appears you might try this link to play or download the file > play drawing 1

This is the sound of the drawing from 02 February 2009
various juncos (male & female), two house finches (1 male, 1 female), and one scrub jay (male)
if no player appears you might try this link to play or download the file > play drawing 2

back to drawing machines

© jamie