Birdwirks Sound Sculpture at Festival Central

Don’t miss singer-songwriter Michael Meadows’ unique singing birds kinetic sound sculpture, “Birdwirks,” on display at Festival Central in the Cohen Building!

Drawing on ancient Greek technology, Birdwirks is a water-powered kinetic sculpture that uses the action of siphons to produce bird-like sounds. A small pump in the tank at the bottom sends water to the horizontal pipe at the top of the structure. From there, the water trickles out from three separate nozzles into designated jars, either directly or by way of the pendulum toggle. Each jar in the sculpture is fitted with an internal siphon. When water reaches a certain level, it is siphoned out into the next jar down, or into a flip toggle which then sends it into another jar. As water enters a jar it compresses the air inside which is then forced out through a brass flue pipe, causing it to sound. The configuration of these pipes (closed, open, variable open/closed, tapered, etc.) vary, so that each one produces a different sound. The bottommost jars siphon into the tank where the water is then recirculated.

See a preview of this mesmerizing action at While you’re at it, see Michael himself in performance on Saturday, October 26, 2:00-3:00pm at the Urbana Free Library Busey-Mills Reading Room.