Only 10 days left for the Animals: Art, Science and Sound exhibition in London, UK at one of my favourite institutions, the British Library.
Here’s more from an April 20, 2023 British Library press release,
- Featuring more than 100 artworks, manuscripts, sound recordings and books, many on display for the first time, Animals: Art, Science and Sound explores how animals have been documented across the world over the last 2,000 years
- Season of events includes musicians Cosmo Sheldrake and Cerys Matthews, wildlife photographer Hamza Yassin and ornithologist Mya-Rose Craig, also known as Birdgirl, and more
- Complemented by two free displays featuring newly acquired material from animal rights activist Kim Stallwood and award-winning photographer Levon Biss
Animals: Art, Science and Sound(21 April – 28 August 2023) at the British Library reveals how the intersection of science, art and sound has been instrumental in our understanding of the natural world and continues to evolve today.
From an ancient Greek papyrus detailing the mating habits of dogs to the earliest photographs of Antarctic animals and a recording of the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō songbird, this is the first major exhibition to explore the different ways in which animals have been written about, visualised and recorded.
Journeying through darkness, water, land and air, visitors will encounter striking artworks, handwritten manuscripts, sound recordings and printed publications that speak to contemporary debates around discovery, knowledge, conservation, climate change and extinction. Each zone also includes a bespoke, atmospheric soundscape created using recordings from the Library’s sound archive.
Featuring over 120 exhibits, highlights include:
- Earliest known illustrated Arabic scientific work documenting the characteristics of animals alongside their medical uses (c. 1225)
- Earliest use of the word ‘shark’ in printed English (1569) on public display for the first time
- One of the earliest works on the microscopic world, Micrographia (1665) by Robert Hooke, alongside three insect portraits by photographer Levon Biss (2021) recently acquired by the British Library, which use a combination of microscopy and photography to magnify specimens collected by Charles Darwin in 1836 and Alfred Russell Wallace circa 1859
- Leonardo da Vinci’s notes (1500-08) on the impact of wind on a bird in flight, on public display for the first time
- One of the rarest ichthyology publications ever produced, The Fresh-Water Fishes of Great Britain (1828-38), with hand painted illustrations by Sarah Bowdich
- First commercially published recording of an animal from 1910 titled Actual Bird Record Made by a Captive Nightingale (No. I) by The Gramophone Company Limited
- One of the earliest examples of musical notation being used to represent the songs and calls of birds from 1650 by Athanasius Kircher
- One of the earliest portable bat detectors, the Holgate Mk VI, used by amateur naturalist John Hooper during the 1960s-70s to capture some of the first sound recordings of British bats
Cam Sharp Jones, Visual Arts Curator at the British Library, said: ‘Animals have fascinated people for as long as human records exist and the desire to study and understand other animals has taken many forms, including textual and artistic works. This exhibition is a great opportunity to showcase some of the earliest textual descriptions of animals ever produced, as well as some of the most beautiful, unique and strange records of animals that are cared for by the British Library.’
Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environmental Sound at the British Library, said: ‘Sound recording has allowed us to uncover aspects of animal lives that just would not have been possible using textual or visual methods alone. It has been used to reclassify species, locate previously unknown populations and allowed us to eavesdrop on worlds that would otherwise be inaudible to our ears. It is such an emotive medium and I hope visitors will be inspired to explore the Library’s collections, as well as tune in to the sounds of the natural world in their everyday lives.’
[Note: All of the events have taken place.] There is a season of in-person and online events inspired by the exhibition, such as a Late at the Library with musician, composer and producer Cosmo Sheldrake hosted by musician, author and broadcaster Cerys Matthews and Animal Magic: A Night of Wild Enchantment where five speakers, including wildlife cameraman, ornithologist and Strictly Come Dancing winner Hamza Yassin and birder, environmentalist and diversity activist, Mya-Rose Craig, each have 15 minutes to tell a story. There is a family event on Earth Day 22 April where Art Fund’s The Wild Escape epic-scale digital landscape featuring children’s images of animals will be unveiled. A selection of these works are included in an outdoor exhibition around Kings Cross.
A richly illustrated publication by the British Library with interactive QR technology allowing readers to listen to sound recordings and a free trail for families and groups also accompanies the exhibition.
The exhibition is made possible with support from Getty through The Paper Project initiative and PONANT. With thanks to The American Trust for the British Library and The B.H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library. Audio soundscapes created by Greg Green with support from the Unlocking our Sound Heritage project, made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Scientific advice provided by ZSL (the Zoological Society of London).
Animals: Art, Science and Sound is complemented by two free displays at the British Library. Animal Rights: From the Margins to the Mainstream (7 May – 9 July 2023) in the Treasures Gallery draws on published, handwritten and ephemeral works from the Library’s collection relating to animal welfare. It features newly acquired material collected by animal rights activist Kim Stallwood who will be in conversation at the Library about the history of animal welfare legislation. Microsculpture (12 May – 20 November 2023) showcases nine portraits by photographer Levon Biss that capture the microscopic form and evolutionary adaptions of insects in striking large-format, high-resolution detail.
Animals: Art, Science and Sound draws on the British Library’s role as home to the UK’s national sound archive, one of the largest collections of sound recordings in the world. With over 6.5 million items of speech, music and wildlife, this includes audio from the advent of recording to the present day, and over 70,000 recordings are freely available online at sounds.bl.uk and in the British Library’s Sound Gallery in St Pancras.
The Animals: Art, Science and Sound What’s on webpage gives information about location and fees for the exhibition.
A May 30, 2023 British Library press release announces an exhibition focused on how online technology is affecting storytelling,
- Opening on 2 June , Digital Storytelling features publications that use new technologies to reimagine reading experiences
- Visitors will discover a range of digital stories, on display together for the first time, including four-time BAFTA nominated 80 Days, an interactive adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, and the exclusive public preview of Windrush Tales, the world’s first interactive narrative game based on the experiences of Caribbean immigrants in post-war Britain
- Also on display will be interactive media providing insights into the lived stories behind historical events, from the 2011 Egyptian uprising in A Dictionary of the Revolution to a moving account of the loss of a relative in the Manchester Arena Bombing in c ya laterrrr.
The British Library has announced it will be opening a new exhibition, Digital Storytelling (2 June – 15 October 2023), that explores how evolving online technologies have changed how writers write, and readers read.
The narratives featured in the exhibition will prompt visitors to consider what new possibilities emerge when they are invited as readers to become a part of the story themselves. Visitors will get to discover how technology can be used to enhance their reading experience, from Zombies, Run!, the widely popular audio fiction fitness app, to Breathe, a ghost story that “follows the reader around”, reacting to users’ real-time location data.
On display for the first time is a playable preview of Windrush Tales,the world’s first interactive narrative game based on the lived experiences of Caribbean immigrants in post-World War II Britain. The game is still in development; the preview is its first public launch, and is made exclusively available for the exhibition by 3-Fold Presents. The exhibition also premieres a new edition of This is a Picture of Wind, with a new sequence of poems inspired by Derek Jarman’s writing about his garden. This is a Picture of Wind was originally written in response to severe storms in the South West of England in 2014. [I found the attribution a little puzzling; hopefully, I haven’t added to the confusion. Note 1: This is a Picture … is a web-based project from J.R. Carpenter, see more in this January 22, 2018 posting on the IOTA Institute website ; Note 2: As for Derek Jarman, there’s this “… if modern gardening has a patron saint, it must be the English artist, filmmaker, and LGBT rights activist Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942–February 19, 1994)”; as for writing about his garden, “The record of this healing creative adventure became Jarman’s Modern Nature (public library)— part memoir and part memorial, …” both Jarman excerpts are from Maria Popova’s April 4, 2021 posting on the marginalian; Note 3: There are accounts of the 2014 storms mentioned in the IOTA posting but sources are not specified]
Items on display will also explore how writers and artists can provide an empathetic look into the lived realities behind the news. Digital Storytelling illustrates this through A Dictionary of the Revolution, which charts the evolution of political language in Egypt during the uprising in 2011. Another work, c ya laterrrr, is an intimate autobiographical hypertext account of the loss of author Dan Hett’s brother in the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack.
Visitors will also get to experience the wide-ranging possibilities of historical immersion and alternate story-worlds through these emerging formats. The exhibition will feature Astrologaster, an award-winning interactive comedy based on the archival casebooks of Elizabethan medical astrologer Simon Forman, and Clockwork Watch, a transmedia collaborative story set in a steampunk Victorian England.
Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications in Contemporary British Published Collections and co-curator of the exhibition, says:
“In 2023 we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the British Library. Over the last half a century, digital technologies have transformed how we communicate, research and consume media – and this shift is reflected in the growth of digital stories in the Library’s ever-growing collection. In recognition of this evolution in communication, we are thrilled to present Digital Storytelling, the first exhibition of its kind at the British Library. Working closely with artists and creators, the exhibition draws on the Library’s expertise in collecting and preserving innovative online publications and reflects the rapidly evolving concept of interactive writing. At the core of all the items on display are rich narratives that are dynamic, responsive, personalised and evoke for readers the experience of getting lost in a truly immersive story.”
A season of in-person events inspired by the exhibition will feature writers, creators and academics:
MIX 2023 Storytelling in Immersive Media. A one-day conference exploring the intersection of writing and technology, Friday 7 July 2023.
An Island of Sound: J.R. Carpenter with Jules Rawlinson. A live and immersive experience exploring phantom islands as weather phenomena, Friday 7 July 2023.
Astrologaster: meet the makers and the music from this pioneering storytelling game, A conversation with the creators and a live performance of songs from the Astrologaster soundtrack, Friday 15th September 2023.
Late at the Library: Digital Steampunk. Immerse yourself in the Clockwork Watch story world, party with Professor Elemental and explore 19th century London in Minecraft, Friday 13th October 2023.
As you can see two of the Digital Storytelling events have yet to take place.
This exhibit too has a fee.
You can find the British Library website here. (Click on Visit for the address and other details.) Some exhibits are free and others require a fee. I cannot find information about an all access pass, so, it looks like you’ll have to pay individual fees for the exhibits that require them. Members get free access to all exhibits.