Miha Godec (SI) – Searching for ‘ō’ō

Searching for ‘ō’ō is a 360-degree photo and sound installation. The user is confronted with a 360-degree spherical photograph representing a place that exists now but will not be here for much longer, an island called Naranjo Chico which is one of 370 low-lying islands of the San Blas Archipelago. Four of the San Blas islands are inhabited by indigenous people called Guna. They speak their own language and enjoy an autonomous region inside the country of Panama. Researchers say that the sea could rise by 2 meters due to climate change by the year 2100, which would sink the islands. Some scientists even say that the islands will be uninhabited in 20 to 30 years’ time. The Guna people will not disappear due to the rise of the sea level, but this will significantly change the way they live. They will have to move to the mainland where they will face new and different problems such as malaria. If you listen carefully, you can hear a birdsong. It’s the haunting beauty of a love song lost amidst the shrilling  sounds of commercial exploitation. It is a song by a bird called The Kaua’i ‘ō’ō from a family of Australian-Pacific honeyeaters. This species is now extinct due to habitat destruction, however, the related cause for extinction was human intervention. What you are hearing does not exist anymore. It’s a song last heard in 1987. The bird is all alone, the last of its kind, calling for a female that will never come.