BBC at the University of Derby filming ‘Murmurations’ for Autumnwatch

On Thursday 29 th October the BBC Autumnwatch production office sent a crew to film a segment about an installation called ‘The Shape of My Thoughts’ (AKA Murmurations) This became part of their programme with the segment starting about 8 minutes in:

The work was conceived as a cross-department collaboration between animators (Department of Art & Design) and musicians (Department of Media & Performing Arts) to produce a 3-dimensional immersive audio/visual installation.

This took the form of a multi-screen projection that filled a large area in front of the audience, and a multi-speaker surround-sound system that included elevation of sound and music above and below the audience.

The piece was first presented as part of the’ Sounds in Space Symposium’ at the University of Derby 30th June 2015

The starling murmurations were a shared source of inspiration for the artists involved. This natural event, that most often occurs in the autumn season in England, can involve flocks of thousands of birds involved in aerial displays creating a sensation of almost choreographic formations.

We conceived the idea of asserting control over an animated flock of birds and imagining music that could represent the flock as it moved around an artificial installation. The initial ideas were supported by the sentiment expressed within a short story aired upon BBC Radio 2 as part of the 500 words competition in 2013 by Roxanna Toyne (then aged 9) called ‘The Starlings of West Pier’:

It was conceived as a creative work that could form part of collaborative research, intended to be disseminated as an installation with supporting academic paper. We wanted to explore the dynamics of multidisciplinary collaboration observing and recording the exchanges and expressive negotiations between composers and animators to produce an immersive expressive design; ultimately the eventual objective is to explore an element of audience interactivity. We have been documenting the aesthetic, technical and perceptual dimensions of the work. Ostensibly the work is an exploration of the contemplative reflection of loss and eventual resolution, through evocation of memories of familiar places and interactions with nature.

The work was also presented, in a more reduced format, as part of the ‘Nature Connections Festival 2015’ held at the University of Derby which was attended by the BBC presented Chris Packham . Chris enjoyed the presentation very much and asked if it could be featured as a part of the Autumn Watch 2015 season:

It is also worth noting that John Anthony (BBC Autumnwatch ) graduated from the University of Derby in 2000 with a BA(Hons) degree in Film and Video.