Ryoko Adachi

Song of Birds: The Imaginary Alphabet of Twigs

Ryoko Adachi

Song of Birds: The Imaginary Alphabet of Twigs



Edition Size



Letterpress, Lithograph


Loose pages


Artist Book


20 × 16.5 in


Acrylic tube

$ 1,800.00


View Collectors

Boston Athenaeum

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries

University of California, Irvine (UCI)

Nine exquisite pages Japanese printed on translucent Torinoko paper and ‘bound’ in a clear acrylic tube, materially and visually evoke an ethereal and pastoral language and world not of human making.

“Strolling in the park, listening to birds chirping, I saw letter-like symbols among the twigs at my feet. I gathered them, photographed them, and arranged this imaginary alphabet into sentences. Looking like calligraphy, these letters mean nothing, but the emerged composition looks as if they were words uttered by nature.

Dr. Kazuo Okanoya has supposed that the origin of a language must have been musical, like the chatter of birds, and studied the song structure of finches.* Each species of bird communicates in its own song; if we understood the musical and pre-linguistic communication, what would we hear in the collective words “spoken” by non-human creatures, birds, insects, and plants?

The imaginary alphabet of twigs was printed in subtly varied colors on both sides of thin Japanese paper (Torinoko) in lithography. Visualizing the overlapping chirps of birds coming from trees near and far, I wanted the printed images to show through the layers of paper. I chose not to bind them as a book but have them in a transparent acrylic tube to embrace the lightness of the Japanese paper.”

— Ryoko Adachi, Tokyo, 2015

*From bird songs to the words of the person, Kazuo Okanoya, Ph. D