The British Library Commissions Yorkshire Artists

As part of their Leeds Culture Programme, The British Library has collaborated with Yorkshire artists to launch an online artwork for Light Night.

‘Faint Signals’ is the Library’s commission with Yorkshire’s Invisible Flock, an interactive arts studio. Its creation is a response to the challenges emanating from COVID-19 to cultural engagement. It’s hoped that visitors will be encouraged to interact with the Library’s sound collection during their discovery of more of the natural world.

Images of Faint Signals on Screen by Invisible Flock

The setting is a fictional Yorkshire forest and shows us how natural sound has evolved over the past 50 years. The Library’s collection of the sounds of the weather and wildlife reveals the complexity and the diversity of the natural landscape of our county.

Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife & Environmental Sounds at the British Library:

“We’re delighted to have commissioned Invisible Flock to bring to life the Library’s fascinating and extraordinary archive of digitised nature sounds. The collection was originally formed in 1969 as a resource for scientists and nature enthusiasts. Today, it contains over 260,000 recordings of wildlife and environmental sounds from all over the world. Most of the sounds I curated for this project can still be heard in Yorkshire, though sadly some no longer exist due to changes in the environment. There are thousands of combinations to explore, so you’ll never have the same experience twice.”

Everyone is invited to explore the flora, fauna and wildlife of present-day Yorkshire as well as the past. Visitors can scroll over pixels to unlock a complex ecosystem. Whilst it may be imagined, the landscape is scientifically accurate, with sounds matched correctly to surroundings. The narration is informative, allowing us the opportunity to learn more about the impact humanity has had over time on the natural world.

Invisible Flock, based at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, has long used technology and art to examine environmental challenges. Victoria Pratt, Creative Director:

“Back in March the pandemic slowed transport and industry and gave some landscapes an unprecedented absence of human contact. We saw sea eagles return to the Yorkshire Moors, deer taking over corners of East London and for the first time in many years, city dwellers heard birdsong all day long. As we contemplate how to live in a world impacted by Covid-19, Faint Signals considers our relationship with shared spaces.”

Kenn Taylor, Lead Cultural Producer North, British Library:

“The Library is delighted to be contributing to Light Night for the second year running. It has been exciting to work with renowned artists Invisible Flock. We hope Faint Signals provides a powerful and evocative experience of the natural world to those who engage with it during these uncertain times. We want it to inspire more people to explore our rich and varied collections as we continue to build our cultural programme in the Leeds region.”

Faint Signals launches on Tuesday November 10th to mark World Science Day and runs until January 2nd 2021

It is free to explore and is available through modern browsers such as Chrome or Firefox.

Find it here:

Feature photograph shows the Invisible Flock Team. Photograph by Anya Stewart Maggs.

Adam Kershaw

Adam combines his interest in Leeds with a flair for writing discovered back in school days. He says he'll tackle any topic as long as it's Leeds.

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