Karaoke Bar: Singing in the Language of Flies

Ursula Damm, Birgit Brüggemeier
2018, Installation, fruit flies

The artwork invites visitors to establish a direct exchange with fruit flies through a technical interface. Software translates the sound of human voice into the perception range of flies.
Birgit Brüggemeier, neuroscientist and fly researcher, explains the meaning of the constituent parts of a fly song. She informs listeners about the syntax and semantics of Drosophila songs, in order to give the visitors a better understanding of fly communication. The video encourages the visitors to sing and speak to the flies. A sound visualization of fly songs on a screen: the location, amplitude, and pattern of the sound sources, will help the performer to identify her effect on the fly behavior.
Another set of headphones offers an anthropocentric view of flies: we track the live pitch (frequencies) of our fly community, constituting courtship songs and flight sounds (differing by about one octave). Specially designed software highlights the real-time sounds by modulating them with chords. It raises the question of whether there are more hidden patterns of communication within the fly songs than described by science thus far.
The work includes „Flypitch“ by Johann Niegel (2019), a real time FullHD Video (15 min) output detecting the frequencies of fly songs and buzzing.

Project supported by Fraunhofer Institute for integrated circuits

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