Fabrica – Brighton
About Marcus Coates
Thanks to his interest in ornithology, zoology and anthropology, he has honed a series of skills to break free of his own human condition and explore the world through the mind and body of animals by literally taking on their own skin. In his films he often plays the role of a shaman to access a ‘lower world’ inhabited by birds and mammals, whose spirits he communicates with to try and understand the nature of certain difficult problems of interest to the audience, in whose name he acts. Through this power of becoming something or someone else, he tries ultimately to reveal the role of the artist as an interpretive force in society.
Working with sound technician Geoff Simple, he placed microphones in woods in Northumberland (United Kingdom) for a fortnight to record individual birdsongs in the dawn chorus. The recordings were then slowed down and passed on to the human participants – all of them professional singers – so they could learn them and perform them in front of the camera. The footage was then speeded up again to match the speed of the original recordings.
At first you go into a pitch black room with the sound of bird song, at different heights as if in a tree are video screens of people in in everyday surroundings – bath/office/sofas all very animated their eyes and lips move rapidly, it’s then you realise the bird song has been linked to the film images.
I found the exhibition very uplifting, the images seem to follow you around the room and after a while you accept that there could actually be bird people out there!