Moving Archives: The Macaulay Library

This film is comprised of 16,384 video clips from the The Macaulay Library of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The clips are laid out in a 128 by 128 grid, organized by sonic similarity. The viewer is moved through this mosaic of sounds and images in various ways that highlight the underlying forms, textures, and atmospheres of the source materials. At its peak, the viewer will be experiencing about 4.5 hours of footage per second.


Visit the methodology page and source code for in-depth detail for how this film was created.

About this collection

The Macaulay Library is the world’s premier scientific archive of natural history audio, video, and photographs. Although the Macaulay Library’s history is rooted in birds, the collection includes amphibians, fishes, and mammals, and the collection preserves recordings of each species’ behavior and natural history. The Macaulay Library archive includes more than 525,000 audio recordings covering 80 percent of the world’s bird species. The video archive includes over 63,000 clips, representing over 3,500 species. The Library is part of Cornell Lab of Ornithology of the Cornell University.

To make this film, I retrieved all of the video clips that were marked as bird song and were part of the traditional archive, which allows for free access for research and educational uses.

Source list

Visit this film's complete source list that outlines where all 16,384 clips are sourced from.

About Moving Archives

This film is part of the Moving Archives film series by Brian Foo that immerses you in the patterns, rhythms, and textures embedded within thousands of hours of footage from public moving image archives.