Until the end of May the Barbican is home to one of the most delightful public sound art installations I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself within.

This was all the footage I could get. “Yes, I know, it’s amazing – but no photos,” the attendant wearily said, obviously for the zillionth time.

Sometimes, I love the space we make in this world for human creativity. “I want to create a surreal indoor beach, with a bunch of uncaged birds prancing around on horizontally affixed guitars, and I want people to be able to walk among them so comfortably that the birds will attempt to nest on them.”

And so there you have it.

I had thought before going, a month after the exhibit opened, that the birds would no longer prance on the strings, having grown tired of the spectacle. “Yeah, I dance on the strings, isn’t it cute, oooh.” I worried they may have grown bored and jaded.


I came back to the exhibit three times, and everytime they were as active and prancey as ever, the room as lush and musical as ever. Obviously you don’t want to anthropomorphize and believe the birds enjoyed making those lovely sounds.

But it’s hard not to be tempted to think that they were, at the very least, aware that they were responsible for the noises coming from the speakers. And, therefore, that they enjoyed those sounds – otherwise they would stop prancing.

Though it is impossible to make such a statement without actually testing the idea properly, I think anyone could be tempted to come to the same conclusion.

What is without a doubt, however, is that the human love for music and desire to perceive human emotions in other animals makes for one awesome exhibit. There was nothing but good vibes in that room.

I cannot put it better than my friend Flavia Fraser-Cannon did when she saw it a week before me: “It leaves you feeling like the world really is a beautiful place.”