MAGICICADA

INSTALLATION WITH INSECTS AND SOUND

TESSA FARMER [UK] & DAVID ROTHENBERG [US]

The seventeen year cicada, Magicicada septendecim, is a most unusual insect. They appear in great outbreaks only once every seventeen years, after spending sixteen years slowly growing underground. Once they emerge, the trees are full of their loud, swirling music. Though at first it all sounds like one huge wash of noise, it turns out the insects are making three separate sounds that are each part of a complex mating ritual, the most complicated of any insect we know. This was only discovered seventeen years ago, the last time they came out in the New York area. This phenomenon only happens in the Eastern US. Why it happens is still not known.

This installation reveals how at first it all sounds like noise but when you learn what to listen for, a whole range of intricate sounds can be heard. In fact there are three related species of Magicicada that all look the same, but need to make a series of different sounds during the mating process. Tessa Farmer, an artist who has made wonderful installations out of real insect parts, and who has also collaborated previously with other musicians, most notably Amon Tobin, will visualise this complex mating ritual, and a sound piece will evoke the ritual in sound and words.

MAGICICADA

About the artist: 

Tessa Farmer received a Master of Fine Arts from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art and has shown at The Saatchi Gallery, The Tatton Park Biennial, Museum Villa Rot, Germany and ‘ISAM: Control Over Nature’, a collaboration with DJ/ Producer Amon Tobin at Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York. In 2011 she was awarded a Kindle Project ‘Maker’s Muse’ Award. David Rothenberg has performed and recorded with Jan Bang, Scanner, Glen Velez, Karl Berger, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, and the Karnataka College of Percussion. His CD, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House, a duet with pianist Marilyn Crispell, came out on ECM in 2010. Rothenberg’s next book, Bug Music, comes out from St. Martins Press in April 2013, along with a CD of the same name.

TESSA FARMER [UK] & DAVID ROTHENBERG [US]