The Colombian artist living in London, Oswaldo Maciá (Cartagena, Colombia, 1960) focuses his work on the concern for sensory processes and subliminal forms of knowledge acquisition. Two of his most common lines of research are exploring synaesthetic relationships (connections between taste, smell and hearing) and the search and creation of new analogies through sensorial paradoxical connections.
Something Going on Above My Head is a work conceived in symphony from the transposition of birdsong to orchestra. Each of the individual calls is integrated into a hierarchical architecture based on their sound quality and the possibility of each of them establishing counterpoints and dialogues with the others.
For five years Maciá has compiled about two thousand birdsongs from around the world into sound files and libraries that have later been manipulated to make "natural" replicas of the various orchestral sections. The birdsong was also used by Eva Lootz in her project La lengua de los pájaros, an installation displayed at the Palacio de Cristal del Parque del Retiro in 2002. For this occasion Maciá occupies the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía interior courtyard garden, where he performs his sound reinterpretation in a naturalistic enclosure in which the file adopts the shape of a universal sound map. You can hear the cooing of the pigeons in Trafalgar Square in London, the canary in Turbaco on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, or the birds of the Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal.
To produce this piece the artist uses tools from naturalism and ornithological studies on the language of birds. This project has two main pillars. First, it relates to scientific sound research developed by Maciá and which is embodied in a geographic file consisting of four CDs, each corresponding to a continent and, secondly, the symphony is composed in the interaction space at Museo Reina Sofía excluding the geography and restoring the senses.
This work was previously presented in ExTeresa in the City of Mexico, at Whitechapel in London and in Gamla Uppsala kyrka och kyrkogård (Viking church and cemetery in Uppsala) Sweden. In the version that can be heard at the Museum, the garden is part of a theatrical stage that recreates the natural environment, associated with the singing of birds. This is the first time a site-specific piece has been created for this garden. The architectural features of the spaces in which the piece will be played leave an emotional imprint and orientate the visitor, giving them various sensory experiences. With this work Maciá encourages the spectator to forget geographic origins and country boundaries and to delve and into a universal sound through encounters with nature.