Singing Sentinels

Canaries in a Post-Carbon Coal Mine, by Liam Young

27 Apr 2012
1 Jul 2012

Coal miners once hammered rock with twittering canaries living beside them, their changing song a warning alarm for a dangerous gas leak. These living sensors watched over us and kept us safe. For the fifth New Order show, London-based architect Liam Young explores a future scenario where bio-engineered birds once again monitor the air for us. A couple of birds will be introduced into the gallery of New Order as an ecological warning system, living in the space and providing audible feedback on the state of the atmosphere. Come and wander the augmented aviary of Singing Sentinels.


In the Singing Sentinels installation - Picture taken during the opening of New Order 5: Singing Sentinels and Camera Futura. Mediamatic Fabriek, Oostenburgereiland Amsterdam. At the opening of New Order 5. At the opening of New Order 5. At the opening of New Order 5. 27 april 2012: Singing Sentinels and Camera Futura made up the fifth installment of the New Order exhibition. Mediamatic Fabriek, Oostenburgereiland Amsterdam. April - juli 2012. I Simone Schoutens


Across the course of the exhibition the air of the gallery is altered in line with the predicted atmospheric composition of the post-carbon world. We hear the canary song subtly shift, as they sing an elegy for a changing planet. With binoculars and your Birdwatchers Guidebook to Singing Sentinels] you will be able to spot these specimens of unnatural history. You can buy the Birdwatchers guidebook by Liam Young here.


Red Canary - Singing Sentinels Simone Schoutens

New Order series

Singing Sentinels is part of the fifth installment in the New Order exhibition, which explores a world in which energy has become a fundamental principle of our society. Five consecutive solo shows feature new works by international artists, designers and architects, each responding to various elements of society - such as politics, economy, health, food and experience - which together combine to outline a complete future world. Click here to read more about New Order.

The Artist

Liam Young (UK) is a London-based architect and educator. He directs the Architecture Association’s Unknown Fields Division, and is founder of Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, a think tank exploring the consequences of fantastic, perverse and underrated urbanisms.


Canaries - Singing Sentinels at the opening of New Order 5. Simone Schoutens

More information

The opening takes place at Mediamatic Fabriek on Friday April 27 from 20.00 to 22.00. Read all about that here. Saturday and Sunday we have a special weekend program and slightly altered opening hours. We're open from 14.00 to 22.00 on the weekend, and on Monday, Queen's Day, we're open from 14.00 to 18.00. A New Order passe-partout will set you back only €5,-. The four previous New Order installations, Meet Your Energy Avatar, Energy Battlefield, Mind Igloo, and Radiant Beach are still on view as well. Visit this page for directions to the Mediamatic Fabriek.

New Order is made possible by Mondriaan Stichting, Ministerie van OCW, Gemeente Amsterdam, SNS Reaal Fonds and Stadgenoot.


Red Radar Canary - Image from bird guide to Liam Young's Singing Sentinaels installation at Mediamatic Fabriek. By Paul Duffield.