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Grackle Call

A series of interdisciplinary performances about the Great-tailed Grackle, embedded in an interactive birding tour

The Latest Update

Performance premiere

Posted on June 29, 2018 by Steve Parker

GRACKLE CALL premiered at the April 2018 Fusebox Festival in a run of three sold out shows.  We’ll be posting documentation soon!


The grackle is a fascinating bird native to Austin, TX.  The bird is fearless, intelligent, and possesses an otherworldly call, more machine than animal.  Grackle movements are idiosyncratic and jittery, and their evening roosts are a Hitchcockian cacophony of chatter.  Yet, the grackle is more than just a mere curiosity.  The invasive bird can damage crops, their droppings spread disease, and the can displace other native species.  Moreover, its success as a species is largely correlated with the spread of human development. The subject of the grackle is complicated, multi-layered, and rich for examination.  To this end, we are creating GRACKLE CALL: a project that sheds new light on the grackle’s history, behavior, and impact.

GRACKLE CALL is a 1.5 performative audiovisual tour that immerses audiences in the roosting locations of the great-tailed grackle.  Mimicking a birding experience, participants will be provided with binoculars, iPods, and a printed program guide that will direct them to experimental performances, installations, radio stories, and soundscapes that examine the grackle in new ways.

This project will premiere as at the Fusebox Festival April 18-21, 2018. Leading up to the final presentation, we will offer a series of free community workshops that will will explore birding, field recording, Deep Listening, and experimental composition.

At the beginning of the performance, experienced birders from the Travis Audubon Society will introduce audiencs to the birding tradition, the Great-tailed Grackle, and program instructions.  Throughout the performance, audiences will be led to different locations in central Austin to experience program content.

Program highlights:

– Dance and sound performances inspired by the idiosyncratic movements of the grackle, by Heloise Gold (collaborator of Pauline Oliveros & Deborah Hay)

– Original radio journalism by NPR environmental reporter Mose Buchele, who will create short audio stories that explore the role of grackles in Aztec society, unsuccessful local attempts of grackle control, and the grackle’s invasive and predatory behavior towards other species.

– Multi-channel sound installations featuring Grackle field recordings, made by Alex Keller of Phonography Austin.

– Participatory choreography by Allison Orr of Forklift Danceworks.

– Process based music works inspired by of grackle roosting patterns found on power lines and swarming patterns

– Original video / kinectic sculpture by artist Yuliya Lanina.

At the end of the program at dusk, participants will congregate to observe the cacaphonous performance of thousands of grackles in their most popular roost: an H-E-B Grocer parking lot near I-35.

community Workshops:

Lead up to the premiere, we will partner with the Hispanic Alliance for the Performance Arts and Austin Soundwaves to offer a series of free community workshops that will explore birding, field recording, Deep Listening, and composition.  These workshops will be held monthly beginning in January 2018 and will be taught by ASW Teaching Artists and the project artists above.  The workshops will culminate in the creation of new works that utilize skills gained in the classes.

Following the  premiere, we will release a free interactive smartphone app that will archive the project, directing users to unique grackle roosting locations throughout the city.

Project Media

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This is an example of our previous large scale, site-specific performances that combine natural soundscape with live human performers, both professional and amateur.

This project featured a live audio feed of 1.5 million bats, a 80+ member megaphone choir, conch shell ensemble, and Alvin Lucier-inspired handmade echolocation devices.

Within, Above and Beyond
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Features: Yuliya Lanina

This is an example the work of one of our collaborators, Yuliya Lanina. She will be working with similar materials and thematic content for this project.

Within, Above and Beyond is a journey inside the mind of an artist. The piece explores the symbiotic relationship that can exist between the artist and her work. Through creativity, the artist is able to explore the depth of tragic experience by unlocking the hidden parts of her subconscious that lay dormant in its wake.

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Features: Fusebox, Allison Orr

This work sample showcases Allison’s ability to create choreography with all kinds of people and materials, highlighting the virtuosity of everyday movements. She will be creating a new work for this project that involves the audience, grocery store customers, and grackle roosting.

Start and End Dates



Austin, Texas

1 update
Last update on June 29, 2018

Project Created By

Austin, Texas
Steve Parker is a musician, artist, and curator who creates communal, democratic work to examine history, systems, and behavior. His projects include elaborate civic rituals for humans, animals, and machines; listening sculptures made from salvaged marching band instruments that are modeled after obsolete WWII acoustic locators; and cathartic transportation symphonies for operators of cars, pedicabs,…

In Collaboration With

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collaborating artist
Austin, Texas
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