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Songbird is a fairytale with a dark heart.
Songbird VR is a 9-minute journey through the island of Kanuai in 1984. Users are invited to search for the ʻōʻō bird, an iconic black bird with yellow feathers on its leg who sings a beautiful song. By retracing the steps of scientist Dr. Jim Jacobi, one of the last known people to see the legenday ʻōʻō, users will hear his story and ultimately encounter the bird themselves.
The lush environment of Songbird VR is comprised of both 2D and 3D painted assets, with each leaf accurately depicting the flora of Kanuai. The fully spatialized soundscape is populated with the recordings of extinct birds combined with authentic sounds from the Kauai’an rainforest. The ʻōʻō recordings were made in 1976, and the ʻōʻō bird was declared extinct in 1987.
Songbird is best watched in a headset with headphones, but is also available as a 360 film on YouTube and on Guardian’s VR app for Google Cardboard. Songbird is also an interactive room-scale installation created in partnership with HTC Vive. This piece represents the story of not only the ʻōʻō, but over half of Kauai’s 13 native birds that have disappeared from the island. This VR piece takes the user through a memory of when this beautiful bird once sung its song in a forest that has not been the same since its disappearance.