Rob & Jame's Update:
Jame has been working on conceptualizing the structure of the dance pieces. She’s decided to choreograph three vignettes that are based on the different environments birds can encounter, a natural setting, the streets of Brooklyn, and at an airport. Here’s what she’s envisioning for the first piece:
In the woods
Here we have a natural setting like a forest with a brook running through it. Birds would have to compete with other birds and other forest sounds but there wouldn’t be a significant change in the birdsong in order to communicate.
In this dance there will be several male dancers trying to win the attention of female dancers by dancing solos. While there is competition between the men they are the main focus. The piece will conclude with a couples forming and partner dancing. She’s decided to use a mellow cha-cha for this piece to represent the mellow but lively forest.
For an example from the natural pine forests of Belize, male Red-capped Manakins (Ceratopipra mentalis) gather in locations called leks to display for potential mates. Lekking behavior can be seen in a variety of taxa, including flies and wasps. Another well-known group of birds that gather display in leks is Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the Western US.
View the video below to see some excellent footage of the Red-capped Manakin displaying at its lek:
Rob & Jame's Update:
As cooler weather begins to appear in NYC, Rob has spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on the warmer climate of Florida, where both he and Jame carry out their field work. Over the next several months, Rob will work on a large embroidery depicting a shoreline’s change in color palette when they switch to turtle-friendly lighting in beachside residences. Here's some information on his first embroidery resulting from The Bridge:
To prepare for the larger embroidery project, I wanted to test out some new stitches, which I have never used before, on a smaller scale. Before, I go into more detail on different embroidery stitches I used, here’s the final product:
Sometimes, even before the first stitch, I lightly trace the design onto the piece of fabric using a pencil. For this project, I just dove right in, and began with the palm tree, building the rest of the piece around a central image. For the bark of the palm tree, I used a running stitch. This stitch is useful for giving a little bit of texture, without completely filling in an area - not one I’ve used too often, but I thought the pattern was perfect for tree bark. Just behind the tree, I used a chain stitch to form the billowy clouds. This is one of the more complicated stitches I incorporated, and you might recognize it as the stitch that is used to tailor the hem on most jeans.
The last close-up contains three different stitches, one of which we’ve seen before...can you pick it out? Starting from the top, the split stitch is perfect for filling in blocks of dense color. To make this stitch, start out with a running stitch, and instead of jumping ahead ¼ inch, bring the needle and thread up through the stitch you just made, then move ahead. I use the split stitch very often. In the middle layer is the now familiar chain stitch. And below that, the seed stitch is a (somewhat) random scatter of embroidery thread, as if casting out a handful of seeds.
This is just a small sampling of stitches that can be incorporate into embroideries. Do you have a favorite fiber art project that you’re working on, or planning, for the winter months? Let us know in the comments!
Rob & Jame's Update:
Imagine walking along the street and spotting your crush across the way. Today is a take action kind of day you think so you call their name… just as a fire engine roars down the street completely swallowing your voice. Oh, the frustration!
You try again only this time a chattering tour group decides to share the sidewalk. Not to be foiled again you raise your voice so you can be heard over the crowd. Did you call loud enough, or does crush never look up at you, and you go on to live life sad and alone.?
Perhaps a bit dramatic but maybe that’s what it feels like to go through the day as a bird in the city trying to find a mate. Just like people, some birds, like nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos), increase the volume of their song when competing with higher levels of noise. Others like great tits (Parus major) sing at a higher pitch so their mating calls can be heard over the lower rumbling noise of the city. (Slabbekoorn and Peet 2003)
Right now Jame is looking for music that reminds her of the buzz of the city and more quiet nature sounds. Some songs under consideration are:
NEW DORP. NEW YORK by SBTRKT (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs0xe9DQEPc)
Nightengale by Yanni (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_B8H956-rg).
Back in his hometown of Providence, RI, Rob used to play trumpet in the What Cheer? Brigade, a 20 piece brass and drum band. They make some vibrant music, and he’ll add one of their songs to the mix:
Saiyan Re Saiyan by What Cheer? Brigade (http://www.whatcheerbrigade.com/music/)
Do you have a song that reminds you of your city? Leave a comment and let us know.
Rob & James Update:
As we mentioned last week, when buildings along are retrofitted with turtle-friendly lighting, the entire color palette of the surrounding sky appears to change. One contributing factor is the change in the type of lighting used. Full spectrum light bulbs, that emit all the wavelengths and usually appears white, are changed to light that emits wavelengths that are less disruptive to turtles (580 nm and above), which we see as amber or red.
Rob & Jame's Update:
New York City has a vibrancy, an energy, a pulse that you can feel. There is the hum of over 8.5 million people, trains clatter above and below ground, skyscrapers stretch from the ground projecting light into the sky. This hustle and bustle isn’t relegated to New York alone - it’s a part of cities everywhere and the effects are felt by the inhabitants (both human and non-human).
As we are both city dwellers, and ecologists who spend a good amount of time in more natural settings, we began discussing the impacts of anthropogenic development (development produced by people) on ecosystem processes. This led us to choose “The City Never Sleeps: Ecological consequences of light and noise pollution” as the theme for our Sciart collaboration.
Jame’s doctoral work focuses on sea turtle friendly lighting, and the laws that regulate light pollution in key nesting areas for turtles in Florida. When buildings are retrofitted for turtle-friendly lights the color palette of the seashore changes. Rob will attempt to capture this shift through a large scale, panoramic embroidery. He will also attempt to teach Jame to embroider.
In tandem with light pollution, an increase in the noise level recorded in urban settings has been shown to alter animal behavior. For example, when competing with the background noise in cities, birds may increase song frequency (Salaberria & Gil, 2010). We will explore potential works in dance and music to illustrate behavioral plasticity observed across a variety of taxa in urban settings. Jame, who believes anyone who can breathe can dance, is delighted to have the opportunity to engage Rob in ecologically based movement.
Have you ever noticed a difference in the way you respond to being in the city versus less developed settings? Do you study an organism or system impacted by light or noise pollution? We’d love to hear about your experiences as we begin to produce artwork inspired by the interface between nature and urban development.
Stay tuned for next week's post!