WOLFGANG MÜLLER– SÉANCE VOCIBUS AVIUM– AN ACOUSTIC INSTALLATION TOGETHER WITH LIGHTING
Wolfgang Müller was born1957 in Wolfsburg, and studied graphics / visual communication
/ experimental film production at the Hochschule der Künste [University of the Arts]
Berlin. A performer, actor, musician and author, he lives and works in Berlin-Kreuzberg
The only completely extinct bird originally at home in Europe is the North Atlantic
giant auk (Alca impennis). Its last recorded occurrence was on the rocky island of
Eldey off Iceland's southern coast. On 3 June 1844 the last two specimens, a breeding
pair, were killed by fishermen – they broke the birds' necks – to sell their offspring
together with innards to a Danish bird collector. Consequently the call of this bird
was never to be heard again.
Back in 1994, on the 160th anniversary of the extermination of the species, Wolfgang
Müller reconstructed the bird's call in the radio studio of the Icelandic state broadcasting
authority. As a "medium" he used the Icelandic actress Kristbjörg Kjeld. With the
help of modern studio technology the call of the bird could be heard again for the
first time since it had become extinct.
Other bird species that have become extinct – normally as a result of the indirect
influence of man – were native to North and Central America, Madagascar, Australia,
New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Since the 16th century it has been estimated
that 150 bird species have died out. Descriptions of the calls of these birds exist
only for a very few species.
Müller provided musician friends of his with scientific descriptions of a particular
species and then requested the friends to make a reconstruction of the corresponding
bird calls and songs (field recordings) which would be as close as possible to the
original sounds. These recordings enable us now to hear again the calls and songs
of long silent bird species within the framework of the "Art for Animals" project.
Coturnix novae-zelandiae / New Zealand Quail (Namosh)