Margate fills High Street with bird song
Seaside town invests in nightingale sound installation designed to change atmosphere of towns High Street
Seaside town invests in nightingale sound installation designed to change atmosphere of town’s High Street
Visitors to are Margate’s High Street today greeted by the captivating tune of a Nightingale’s song thanks to an innovative technology project by sound artist, Robert Jarvis.
The project originally launched to help change the ambience of the Kent-based High Street, which was recently profiled following its selection as a ‘Portas Pilot’ regeneration project by Mary Portas, and to date the project has been well received by both visitors to the town and traders.
Creating local talking point
Funded through the Canterbury Festival’s Prosper Together initiative, the ever-changing birdsong comes from small ‘invisible speakers’ from Feonic Technology that Robert Jarvis installed to six shop windows. The Whispering Window technology converts the window panel into a speaker, making the song audible to passers-by.
Jarvis explained how it works: “With the Feonic technology turning windows into speakers, it is not obvious to passers-by as to where the bird song is coming from. It therefore entices listeners to search and relate to the surrounding area in a different way. Between the six shops, the bird song is fully synchronised, creating the illusion that the nightingales are calling out and responding to each other throughout the day. Their musical song is heard off and on along the whole of the High Street, and to great effect, spreading cheer to passers-by.”
Part of retail regeneration
Jarvis said that, having heard about the Mary Portas project in Margate, he knew the town might be receptive to new ideas. He added: “I have already received feedback that the area has seen a change, including reports of a decrease in anti-social behaviour and also an increase in new conversations as customers and traders talk with each other as they smile and together look for the birds.”
Lorraine Spiro, local music teacher and a shopper in Margate, commented: “There is something very uplifting about birdsong. It’s natural and doesn’t compete with the thoughts in your mind. There are so many applications for this: schools, playgrounds; the more places you look, I can’t see where it wouldn’t be useful to be honest.”
An audio story about the project is also available here.