Individual Work
Birds Singing Other Birds' Songs

"In Birds Singing Other Birds' Songs," a work shown as a video installation and now available as a Flash version on the Web, birds' sounds are transcribed into morphemes representing human perceptions of their songs. The corresponding graphemes are then animated to form the bodies of birds flying with human voices, tweaked by the computer, and articulating the sounds denoted by the marks. In the complex processes of translation that the work instantiates, the human is in-mixed with nonhuman life forms to create hybrid entities that represent a conjunction of human and nonhuman ways of knowing. The piece offers a reenactment of the history of literacy through different media as it moves from sounds present in the environment to written marks (orality/writing), written marks to the iconographic shapes of the animated avian bodies (writing/digital images), accompanied by the re-representation of human speech as computerized voice production (digital multimodality). Although Mencia's work can be classified as electronic literature, it is fundamentally about literacy rather than any literary form, illustrating the interrogations that the literary can undertake of the histories, contexts, and productions of literature. (Parts of this description are cited from "New Horizons for the Literary" by N. Katherine Hayles)