Byzantium is a sound experiment from artist group CHRΘMA investigating visionary language, birdsong and participatory algorithms. For the run of Libidinal Circuits, a golden bird was perched in a tree in Ropewalk square, sounding a polyphonic mix of the city’s desires, frustrations, memories and dreams. Like Yeats’ mechanical golden bird that sings in the eternal city in his poem Sailing to Byzantium, this metal bird sang “Of what is past, or passing, or to come” by combining voices collected from the streets of Liverpool with audio streams of bird habitats out beyond the city limits.

The development of Byzantium during the exhibition Build Your Own invited the public into the lab to co-create oracles. This project is part of CHRΘMA’s running experiment into technological circuits and symbolic, expressive language. Inspired by the historical concept of the “Language of the Birds” or the “green language”, a natural and symbolic language of vital creative communication said to run through myth, metaphor and everyday language, like a vital green seam through history. In 2015 network technology is increasingly used by companies to crowdsource human beings as isolated working components of large automated systems, designed to produce commercial content and financial profit. This project explores alternative participatory algorithms that invite expressive, divergent and creative words and mischievously invokes the “green language” of the city.

Sadly, the bird was vandalized during its first night out in the city. It was pulled apart by someone wanting the cheap electronics and speakers held inside its inner sphere.

New possibilities emerged from the destruction, and full documentation of the project’s trajectory/adventure can be found here and here.