Sydney June 2014 (2 photos)
Forgotten Songs, a permanent street art installation by Michael Thomas Hill, commemorates fifty birds and their songs, once heard in central Sydney before they were gradually forced out of the city by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun and those of the nocturnal birds which inhabited the area sounding into the evening. At night, you may hear the Australian Owlet-nightjar, Powerful Owl, Southern Boobook, Barn Owl, Tawny Frogmouth and White-throated Nightjar.
I’d always wanted to photograph this artwork at night and I took a moment to do so when out photographing the Vivid Sydney festival recently.* It looks and feels different at night.**
Listening to the calls and cries of the owls, I noticed shadows and silhouettes passing me by, oblivious to what was above their heads. The empty cages reminding us of that part of nature that has been lost. I looked up and blinked. Was that the silhouette of an owl I saw overhead? I blinked again and it was gone but the cry of the owls continued to echo in the lane.
Like the owls, I moved on: unseen and unnoticed.
*For easy reference, I’ve now created a separate page for my Vivid festival posts in my main menu above.
**I’ve photographed this artwork before during the day. My photo “Don’t forget to look up” won third place in the Digital Lightroom’s 4th competition on the theme of the urban landscape.
94 thoughts on “Cry of the owls”
I haven’t seen them: the last time I was in Angel Place was about a thousand years ago. The idea is WONDERFUL: but why there ? … Because of the concert hall, I suppose …
Love the photos, LD.
Thanks. Just part of a program of lane way art in the city of Sydney, like the one in chinatown.
They do have a different effect (day and night) and both are equally amazing! Your last two sentences creeped me out though, lol…
Maybe I should be a horror fiction writer? 🙂
Thank you. Have a great friday and weekend ahead.
Perhaps you can make movies, too 😀 My fav was Alfred Hitchcock. B&W suits you perfectly 😀
Maybe I’ll start with a remake of “The Birds”. 🙂
That one always freaks me out. 🙂
I buy the first tix 🙂
I’ll give you free popcorn. 🙂
Salt n Sweet pls 😀 😀 😀
What a fantastic and wistful exhibit. The crowd below does seem to be a bit oblivious.
Thanks, it is thought provoking. People often forget to look up. 🙂
I remember your daylight photograph but forgot that the work included audio. It imitates the natural diurnal patterns too! Very cool!
It’s a very interesting concept, and the sounds of the birds adds to the atmosphere of it all. The first thought is to look up and find where the birds are.
Thanks for the back story and for the superb black and white compositions. I just love the names of the owls, especially, the Southern Boobook (which, in contrast to it’s cousin the Northern Boobook, speaks with a US southern twang), and the White-throated Nightjar. BTW, your previous image of this cool location looks like a 1st place to me….just sayin’.
Someone must have had a hoot naming all these owls. 🙂
Thank you very kindly. 🙂
Hope the remainder of the week is good to you.
Yours as well Lignum.
Who’s on first?
I don’t know…
third base. 🙂
I’ve always liked your daytime shot of this; it’s good to see what it looks like at night. I am glad you shared the information about the installation – what an interesting concept.
Thanks. It’s a nice contrast to the otherwise man made canyon, and that brings home the message.
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Thank you very much Leyla. 🙂
That’s very cool. Excellent in B&W.
Thank you. I lot of photographers come to this spot.
beautiful night shot and great work of art – very thought provoking.
Indeed it is thought provoking, but a lot of people don’t get the message. Thank you very much.
Congratulations!! I always thought your photos should win many competitions (especially with me as the jury 😀 :D)!
Great post – this line really moved me: “The empty cages reminding us of that part of nature that has been lost.”
It is so true, and in every part of the world, nature is under threat.
Thank you kindly Indah. Have a great friday and weekend ahead. 🙂
🙂 Thank you! And you too – have a great weekend!
These are great black and white photos. They show so much depth.
Thank you very much. The art installation is very impressive and naturally attracts a lot of photographers.
Ohhh!!! It is absolutely wonderful!!! Love those shots…And love the way you transport us to that magical place….I can ever feel you moving like a shadow….
I will have a look now to the other gallerie..
My congratulations LD!!!
Thank you very much. 🙂 🙂 🙂
That’s the power of photography. Glad you could enjoy this from afar.
Definitely..I prefer those night shots!!!! May be because of the play of light and shadows…
Maybe you’re really a night owl? It does seem a bit more foreboding at night.
Nice but I prefer your daytime shot. Those lights are distracting. Saying that I do like the darkness of this image.
Thanks. The choice of lighting can have a great effect on atmosphere. I’m not sure if the artist had a say in the type of lighting or whether the city council chose it.
Your photo is amazing but this installation really depresses me 😦
Thank you. It’s a reminder of man’s impact on nature. If it depresses you, then it has done its job.
A masterpiece, Wow! Thank you, Dragon.
Amy, thank you very much. I’m honoured by your comments.
Maybe I should hire you as my publicist. 🙂
Have a wonderful day ahead.
Well, I’m still working on your cousin for that NG deal… just kidding 🙂 🙂
He’s got too much on his plate: song offers, movie deals, books …
Some dragons get all the luck. 🙂
He was on cnn the other day, very cool! 🙂
He didn’t tell me about that! 🙂
This pictures remind me your post Spirits in the sky. Hopefully the cages are empty.
Have a nice day Draco 🙂
Thank you Sophie, and yes they are empty. Just the recorded birdsong to remind us.
I have night photos of Spirits in the sky for later too. 🙂
Have a wonderful day ahead too. 🙂
Its amazing that i come back to wordpress after so long to find something about my fellow birds.. Its sad when they are caged and freedom deprived. On the other hand, its a way we make life around us.
Its a beautiful picture with a sentimental story.
Thanks for sharing it with us!
It worked!!! I post about owls and she’s back. 🙂
The empty cages are a tangible way of representing the loss of birdlife, although they were never caged to begin with.
Good to hear from you again.
Oh, i was referring to a general bird-caging. No feathery creature should be locked. Fly free 🙂
Im glad it worked! I knew it was something special waiting for me here. My yearning was for a reason 😉
Great images – funny, the daylight one was the first image I ever saw of yours and I voted for it in the comp at the time 🙂
Thank you very much. Funny how there can be something like this in your home city and it takes a couple of years to “accidentally” find out it is there. 🙂
Doh that should read ‘I ever saw’!
Correction made. Cheers. 🙂
What a fantastic exhibit. Unfortunate that most people just walk on by without noticing!
That happens a lot in life, I think.
This is such a striking installation–I forwarded your post to some birder/artist friends to enjoy.
How can you bear to go to work? Your city offers such amazing art. The daily temptation to explore with a camera must be intense!
Thank you. You are very kind.
The daily temptation to photograph is great but the need for daily bread is greater, so off to work I go. 🙂
Your photos are incredible Draco! And what an interesting art installation! Have a great weekend! 🙂
Thank you Elina. It is quite thought provoking and attracts people to see it. That’s a cafe below it. I need to try that one one day.
Have a wonderful friday and weekend ahead too. 🙂
Thank you Draco! I hope your weekend was great! 🙂
Thanks Elina. Any day I don’t have to work is automatically good. 🙂
Wonderful images. I love the texture of all the lines of the birdcages, hanging in the light. I almost never shoot at night and am feeling that I should try it out, having seen so many of your night pictures. Perhaps it’s because I associate evening time with hanging up the camera and heading out for a cocktail!
Thanks. Who knows, the cocktails might enhance your creativity? I know I start to see things after a few. 🙂
Incredible exhibition and Great images!
Thank you very much.
interesting contrast (or manybe parallel?) between the cages and the people walking under them…
it’s a very interesting installation and very nice to photograph… hope they keep it there until I make it to Sydney someday maybe 🙂 until then I’ll be enjoing your amazing work…
ps. the daytime photo is just as incredible, Lignum 🙂
Thank you very much Alex. Yes, there is an interesting contrast and I suspect the artist envisioned that too when he created it.
I’m still buying my lottery tickets . 🙂
I am not sure I want to see the colour one just yet, cause I love this nocturnal shot so much 😀 You have created a terrific atmosphere using black and white and shooting at night. I think it can’t stand out so beautifully during daytime, but I will have a look …. later.
Thank you very much Paula. The other one is B&W, but in the daytime. 🙂
You are quite welcome to include this one in your sunday challenge if you wish.
I do, I do and will do. 🙂
These are really fantastic images, Lignum!
Have a wonderful weekend.
Thank you very much Lisa. Have a wonderful weekend too. 🙂
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This is a stunning photo!
Thank you. Nice to meet you. 🙂
When I first saw this I thought you had posted a picture of this before. I went looking for it, wasn’t successful, I should have just read on – haha, you gave a convenient link!! At least I know my memory is not as bad as I thought it was! 😉 And it does look very different at night from daytime.
This a very unusual form of art, and really interesting, kind of thoughtful but also a little haunting, when you think those birds have been drive out by humans, and now humans would perhaps want them back.
Is it mainly a shopping and eating area? I was just wondering, if there were people living there, what it would be like to hear those bird songs all the time? I’m sure I would pick up the lack of randomness in the calls and it would drive me crazy. Unless of course those bird calls are randomly released, that might be good, might actually create a perfect illusion that they are really there. I used to find real birdsong annoying in the early hours of the morning, but I love it now! 🙂
Thanks Suzy. It’s hard not to go there when I’m in the area. I’m sure that I’ll photograph it again some time in the future. 🙂
It’s a lane way in the CBD near a Recital Hall. All offices and restaurants in this area; nothing residential I believe. I do wonder if the glass of the offices at birdcage level are sound proofed though. I think the view from the offices would be fantastic. I think most people would love to have a bit more nature in their cities.
Congratulations on your well deserved placing in the competition Lignum! I adore both shots, somewhere in the dark beyond of the hanging cages the birds are enjoying their freedom, I hope.
Thank you Patti. Very poetic and I hope that is true too.
I thought I recognized this from a previous post … the night shot is great!
Thanks. The spotlights were a bit of a bother though. 🙂
I love the idea of this installation and how the sounds shift with the hours. Beautiful!
Thanks. The sounds really add to the experience of the installation, and can be heard even above the usual city noises.
Bizarre but beautiful…and the B&W is perfect, well done!
Thank you kindly. It’s a fascinating art installation.
very Kewl 🙂