News - Faint Signals

abstract lit pixels showing a map of a forest

The British Library’s Leeds Culture Programme has launched a new online artwork, featuring the natural landscape of Yorkshire as you've never seen it before... 

Press Release

Faint Signals is a British Library commission with Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio Invisible Flock. It has been created, as part of Light Night Leeds’ autumn/winter programme, as a response to the challenges around cultural engagement caused by COVID-19 and aims to encourage visitors to continue to interact with the British Library sound collection whilst discovering more about the natural world.

Set in an imagined Yorkshire forest the work looks at how natural sound has changed over the last 50 years. Using the British Library’s vast collection of wildlife, weather, and other nature sounds Faint Signals reflects the diversity and complexity of Yorkshire’s natural landscape. 

Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife & Environmental Sounds at the British Library said “We’re delighted to have commissioned Invisible Flock to bring to life the Library’s fascinating and extraordinary archive of digitised nature sounds. The collection was originally formed in 1969 as a resource for scientists and nature enthusiasts; today it contains over 260,000 recordings of wildlife and environmental sounds from all over the world. Most of the sounds I curated for this project can still be heard in Yorkshire though sadly some no longer exist due to changes in the environment. There are thousands of combinations to explore, so you’ll never have the same experience twice.”

Using just a mouse and laptop or desktop, the piece invites people to explore Yorkshire’s flora, fauna, and wildlife both past and present.

Visitors scroll over pixels that represent the Yorkshire woodland to unlock a complex ecosystem. Although imagined, the landscape is scientifically accurate to Yorkshire and each sound will relate correctly to its surroundings. A simple narrative gives people the chance to learn more about our relationship with the natural world and how human impact has altered this over time.

Invisible Flock, based at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, have long used technology and art to examine environmental challenges.

“Back in March the pandemic slowed transport and industry and gave some landscapes an unprecedented absence of human contact,” says Victoria Pratt, Creative Director at Invisible Flock.

“We saw sea eagles return to the Yorkshire Moors, deer taking over corners of East London and for the first time in many years, city dwellers heard birdsong all day long. As we contemplate how to live in a world impacted by Covid-19, Faint Signals considers our relationship with shared spaces.”

Kenn Taylor, Lead Cultural Producer North, British Library says “The Library is delighted to be contributing to Light Night for the second year running. It has been exciting to work with renowned artists Invisible Flock. We hope Faint Signals provides a powerful and evocative experience of the natural world to those who engage with it during these uncertain times. We want it to inspire more people to explore our rich and varied collections as we continue to build our cultural programme in the Leeds region.”

Faint Signals launched on Tuesday November 10th to mark World Science Day and runs until January 2nd 2021

It is free to explore and is available through modern browsers such as Chrome or Firefox

Find it here

Image - British Library/Invisible Flock

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