Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Chorus of Cicadas
(Concept Artwork in Progress)

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The chorus produced by cicadas (120 decibels) can be painful to the human ear. It acts as a defence against predatory birds since it makes it more difficult for a predator to locate an individual animal. The chorus often begins with the sound of one animal, which then reaches a crescendo - the crescendo slowly descending into a ripple, which peters into silence.

I have often witnessed analogous choruses where there are large crowds. When a spectacular event occurs in sport, there is always the first to cry in adulation, followed by the rising wave of exultation, descending to an embarrassed fan that wished he had cheered much earlier. Similar at classical concerts, there is the first to clap, a wave that stood up in appreciation and applauded, and the man who stood and finger whistled - when everybody else sat down!

In life I cannot help searching for that “cicadian” chorus. When I am hosting a party, there is the first to arrive, a multitude trying to enter your home at the same time, trailing with those who are fashionably late, to finally a person who comes in unfashionably late and drunk. When they exit, you can just play this scene forward again – the first to leave, the multitude who want to leave at the same time, and that unfashionable drunk who now you have to tuck into your guest room!

In all matters of social activity, where large numbers are involved, a normal distribution seems to appear. Hence, there is the first to rise to the last to fall, the first to sprawl to the last to crawl, the first to cry to the last to bawl etc. The next time you start your lawn mower, just listen to that developing chorus.

It is clear that the “cicadian” chorus is designed to obscure individuals in the multitude. Sure you can be the first to clap at a concert in the middle of a musical piece that may have several parts to it - but if no one joins in, everybody knows it is you who has stuffed it up. On the other hand, if everybody joins in, clearly you know your stuff! The first clappers are the real risk takers, the rest just suffer from the classical concert syndrome of - “dreaded fear of clapping in the wrong place” psychosis.

Sometimes it is best not to be a part of the “cicadian” chorus; that is, to stand back from it and not to join in - not to be the first, middle or the last animal to sing. Oh, if only Tiger Woods would have refrained from being that identifiable singer in a “cicadian” chorus!


Anonymous said...

Very interesting Marie-Therese, I would love to see some photo's as now I am intrigued!

Art Quill Studio said...

I will upload the artwork and the synopsis of the artwork as a new post when it is completed.