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A Confounding Mimicry
A Confounding Mimicry
4-channel sound for the Lincoln Park Conservatory's Fern Room, with 14 accompanying signs in English & Spanish

This sign gives insight into the two artists's process in creating this project. During their actual visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, they encountered the bizarre and wondrous calls of the Three-Wattled Bellbird, a major inspiration for the sound component of the project. In the Fern Room you hear its call amongst the calls created by the artists from images of ferns.

A hint for those who care to know: in the recording you hear, the invented calls sound real, while the real calls – like the Bellbird's – seem thoroughly unbelievable.

The Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus) is known for its incredible call. Were you to hear a recording, you probably wouldn’t believe these sounds were made by a bird. Juvenile bellbirds learn their calls from adults—and in an unexplained phenomenon, Bellbird’s whistles have been decreasing in pitch dramatically since first recorded in 1974. No one knows the reason why. Bellbirds can live only in pristine rainforests like Monteverde, Costa Rica—and so, like many species, are threatened by habitat loss. Unless we change our culture to value these remarkable ‘others,’ it could be that these incredible singers vanish before we have a chance to understand their mysteries.

La Araponga (Procnias tricarunculatus) es conocida por su increíble canto. Al escuchar una grabación, es difícil de reconocer que estos sonidos vienen de un pájaro. Arapongas jóvenes aprenden sus cantos de los adultos—y en un fenómeno inexplicado, los silbatos de Araponga han ido disminuyendo en tono desde su primer registro en cinta en 1974. No se sabe por qué. Arapongas sólo pueden vivir en las selvas vírgenes como Monteverde, Costa Rica, y así como muchas especies, se encuentran amenazados por la pérdida de hábitat. Si no cambiamos nuestra cultura para valorar estos notables “otros," podría ser que estos increíbles cantantes desaparezcan antes de tener la oportunidad de entender sus misterios.