Kathy Hinde

Twittering Machines live : 2019

Arguably the most incredible work of the evening is from UK artist Kathy Hinde, whose Twittering Machines is like a twenty-first century zoetrope.” The List review, Sonica Glasgow, 2019

Twittering Machines explores environmental concerns by focussing on the Nightingale; one of the only birds to serenade us at night time with its beautiful yet mournful songs. The performance centres on a vinyl recording of John Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ translated into Morse Code. Software listens in, live, and translates the morse code back into text. Other sounds start to interfere with the translation, interrupting the Keats poem. The blips and beeps of the morse code meld with music boxes, bird imitation toys, singing bowls and other objects, all sampled and manipulated live. 

Interwoven with morse code text are analogue films of birds and bird habitats eco-processed with natural materials. The film is further transformed using physical and chemical methods to interrupt and degrade the imagery. Keats wrote the poem close to the end of his life, and this performance provokes thoughts around the ‘five minutes to midnight’ state of the current climate emergency, by combining hypnotic sounds with bright sun bleached deserts and disjointed text from Keats’ late work.

A poetic reflection on the delicate state of bird populations, as suitable habitat becomes rarer and climate change confuses the seasons.

“…the audience entranced as the song developed a danceable rhythm…” exclaim.ca review by Tom Beedham, 2019.

In 2020, Kathy Hinde was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for Twittering Machines, in the Sound Art Category. Twittering Machines was premiered at Mutek Montréal 2019.

Composed and performed by Kathy Hinde, using bespoke software by Matthew Olden. Video above filmed for GAS Festival 2020 in partnership with Sonica. Recorded at the Cube Cinema, Bristol; filmed by Sam Irving and David Hopkinson; Sound recorded by Andrew Binnie; edited by Kathy Hinde.

Photos below by Ashutosh Gupta taken at Mutek Montréal 2019.