Gavin Sade, Priscilla Bracks: e. Menura Superba

  • ©, Gavin Sade and Priscilla Bracks, e. Menura Superba


    e. Menura Superba

Artist(s) and People Involved:




    OLED screens, tricolour LEDs, other various electronics, and post consumer stainless steel, brass, and plastic off cuts, aluminium mesh

Artist Statement:

    When Enlightenment scientists worked to discover, study and preserve exotic fauna and flora found in the new world, they presumably did not intend this knowledge to enable destruction of the environments they explored. Nevertheless, indications of this potential were evident as exotic creatures were prized mainly as taxidermy specimens for display as symbols of wealth and status, and as trophies from travel to distant lands. e. Menura Superba is an interactive artwork that explores this paradox between our fascination with the exotic, and the dystopic futures devoid of many species, that may lie in store as a result of human activity. The work hybridises 17th to early 20th century aesthetics with refined post consumer waste materials, to create a simulacra of a lyrebird. Australian lyrebirds (initially designated Menura Superba) have the remarkable ability to mimic natural and human sounds in their environment. This vocal range, and their unusually long, wispy tail feathers, made this bird a 19th century curiosity. As a taxidermy specimen, it was the most prized of all Australian birds. The lyrebird repertoire has been known to include sounds such as camera shutters, flute and piano melodies, even chain saws. Beyond it’s value as a curiosity, it is also an interesting gauge of our acoustic environment, as it mimics sound pollution – an often overlooked interaction between humanity and the natural world. In this work the naturally shy lyrebird becomes curious. It is especially attracted by colourful clothing, and will sing and change the colour of its plumage in an attempt to attract an audience.

    Programming: Glen Wetherall
    Metal Work: Dayataminda Rajapatirana
    Additional bird recordings: courtesy of Sydney Curtis