In cartoons, mornings always break with a little “Morning Mood” by Edvard Grieg and the serene sound of birds chirping. While this ideal of a more natural start to a new day is often followed by a contrasting cacophony in cartoons, it may just be the antidote to out harried modern lives. Martin Smith has taken a decidedly analogue approach to the process of waking up in the morning.
Smith created a mechanical contraption called “Bird Song with a Found Feather,” which is being shown at the London Design Festival. As the artistic director of Laikingland, Smith has ample experience making kinetic objects. His knowledge in the field meant that he kept an attentive eye on every detail of the Bird Song. The machine creates noise by pushing air through a whistle. Two cams rotate and push levers up and down; one lever inflates bellows while the other moves a slide in the whistle. As air goes through the whistle, the slide adjusts the pitch of the sound creating a more natural sound, which a horn then amplifies. The whole machine is connected to a custom-made analogue clock that gently chirps the user awake at the time set. The machine is beautifully crafted out of brass, steel, fabric and a blue feather donated to the piece.
Of course, if you want to wake up to the sound of birds, it would be easy to download an app to do just that. But the craftsmanship and analogue nature of “Bird Song with a Found Feather” makes an object you could build a relationship with. You might not be able to pinpoint the difference between the two, but deep down you’ll know. Birdsong is on display at Mint.