Soil voicemails and other trans-species calls

This digital poetry piece was commissioned for the ‘Crossed Lines’ project in collaboration with the Science Museum Group project explores trans-species calling: insects leaving ‘voicemail’ messages in the soil for other insects; humans creating computer-generated whistles to telephone dolphins; and the parallel of telephone-tapping to eavesdropping by túngara frogs.

Using animation and poetry, and mixing the sounds of endangered animals, insects and birds, the piece explores the resonance of telephone metaphors such as the exchange, the call-centre and the party-line in order to consider, in the light of the climate emergency, whether such trans-species calling might open up productive, ethical and sustainable ways of engaging with the other species with whom we share our planet.

This piece was developed as part of a collaboration with the Science Museum Group. Commissioned for Crossed Lines during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maya Chowdhry’s digital poem is inspired by part of a Rugby transatlantic telephone transmitted from 1927 which is held in the museum’s collections. Please visit the Science Museum Group for more information about the poem and the partnership.

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