WTF?! Wednesday: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, “From Here To Ear” (2014)

I have to admit that I get a kick out of exposing people to odd sounds. When they get that somewhat worried look on their face — either eye-rolling disdain or fear (that the listening session will go on for too long) — then I have done my job. Too bad cultural evangelism doesn’t pay well. It’s so much fun!

And so speaking of eye-rolling, there’s an exhibit currently at the Peabody Essex Museum that I bet induces such behavior. Though it appears to be going over quite well and is selling tickets like nobody’s business, you just have to know that some folks are going to be shaking their heads and rolling their eyes. Artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot has enlisted the aid of 70 zebra finches and a set of electric guitars and basses in an installation called “From Here To Ear.” With the guitars tuned to chords, the resulting music sounds like something John Cage would have done, employing elements of randomness as source material.

Strangely enough, this is the second music/art piece involving birds that I’ve come across recently. The other one had the artist laying out giant sheets of staff paper in a park, with the idea that birds would fly over and poop on them. The birds’ “contributions” would then be used by a composer as a starting point. This is of course where the eye-roller has to make a joke about all of this being crap.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at