Sally Ann McIntyre

Honorary Fellowship Project: A single sound is enough to rouse an archive (talking to the lyrebird about copyright)

The first Australian sound recording of a wild bird was made on 28 June 1931, when the song of the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) was preserved on the optical soundtrack of film in Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges. The first direct broadcast to radio of the song of the same species went to air on 5 July 1931, following some earlier test transmissions in Melbourne.

At the same time as these experiments were taking place, the lyrebird was under threat from habitat loss and feral predators in Victoria. Naturalists saw Tasmania's deep mountain gullies and fern glades as an ideal refuge, and transferred a pair of birds caught near Sherbrooke Forest to Mount Field in central Tasmania in 1934. Over the next 15 years, 22 lyrebirds were released in Tasmania.

The descendants of these Sherbrooke lyrebirds in Tasmania are now considered pests, but they are also recording devices which still mimic sounds they have not heard since the 1930s, in an imperfect manner, like a degraded recording.

Sally's project aims to reflect on these early recording experiments and situate them within a wider history of sound and radio in Australia. Her project will explore how this initial interaction with a nonhuman species in the 1930s informed the notion of transmission media, and inspired an enduring fascination with mimicry within the burgeoning technologies of recording. The project proposes to situate media histories within the context of acoustic ecology, and the ability of environmental recording to preserve lost worlds.

Sally Ann McIntyre is an independent artist, writer, broadcaster and researcher who lives and works between Australia and New Zealand. Her sound work has been broadcast on radio stations in 20 countries.

Sally currently works as a casual tutor at Otago University and a sessional lecturer with Melbourne Polytechnic. Her work has been presented in various formats, for exhibition, publication and audio release.