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Lightning Birds: An Aeroecology of the AirwavesJacob Smith
The aerosphere is a literal and figurative contact zone for birds and media. Transmission towers become obstacles in birds' flight paths; radar systems emit signals that reveal the large-scale movements of birds; parabolic microphones directed at the sky detect avian flight calls; and miniature radio transmitters are attached to birds to track their global travels.
Lightning Birds is a multi-media project that consists of a five-episode, podcast-style audiobook, a curatorial essay, and a bibliography. It tells a new story about radio, describes important scientific discoveries about bird migration through interviews with key researchers, and explores a mode of ecocriticism that combines traditional forms of text-based scholarship with sound art, music, and audio storytelling. At a moment when 13% of all bird species are threatened with extinction, Smith writes not only to those working in media studies, environmental studies, and ornithology, but also to a broader public. He argues that by knowing more about how birds use the sky, we might begin to minimize the damage that our buildings, media, and environmental degradation do to the aerosphere.
- 978-0-472-99905-7 (open access)