The Observers: initial visualisations of ideas and concept
The current title of the video work is The Observers – a poetic reflection on bird watching, shared habitat, environment and extinction. Much of the current footage is filmed on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, the way the land juts out into the sea, marks it as an ideal resting place for migrants. In the Observatory, time slows down and bodies are very still in an attempt to mirror what they observe. The role of the observer is to maintain and build an archive of data that catalogues species increase and decline from year to year. In this respect they are responsible for exposing loss, disappearance and potential extinction and for staying connected to the interdependency of species and habitats that extends beyond country borders.
I am interested in exploring further how the observers always use a form of object or prosthesis between eye and world, such as a telescope, binoculars, camera lens, birdhide or sound recorder to connect or relate to things far away. There is a respect for distance and a craft to being invisible. I would like to expand on these ideas through visiting 3 more bird observatories along the coastline. I would like to gather more imagery of the body of the observer, the learnt field craft involved in looking, the objects they use to magnify or frame nature and the habitats they watch in.
I’ve begun experimenting with the highest ISO on my camera that exposes each pixel and breaks down the surface of the image. I have also started working with a series of bird recordings made in 1945. Both the ISO and the recordings have a huge static noise to them that speaks as much about the archiving of sound and image as it does about the decay of information.
I will be working with the duo BirdWorld who will create a composition for the video. ‘Birdwatchers speak of the ‘jizz’ of a bird to mean the sum of characteristics – shape, plumage, posture, flight-style, call, habitat – that allow its instant identification from a general impression’. This will be used as a template to build a composition during the residency. The intention is for the composition to form chapters or sound breaks throughout the video. I have used existing BirdWorld music to give an impression in the video draft of how this could work but hope to use the residency to develop a new composition and record this at Wysing.
The text is currently formed of fragments I have been collaging from the poetry of Alice Oswald, Holly Corfield-Carr, Rebecca Solnit, writings on bird observatories, flora and bird song. I have currently included in the draft some of the text spoken by Vicky, an archivist at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston, alongside conversations with birdwatchers as an example of how the two will work together. I intend to use the lead up to the residency period to refine the text and to make further sound recordings with bird watchers and Vicky.
The Observers, initial visualisations of ideas and concept, 07:31
Bird Observatories: Research
A number of references for text, locations of observatories, lists of species, photographs of observers and attempts to record bird song.
Bird Observatories in Britain and Ireland
More Song of Wild Birds
Alice Oswald, Wood etc
Holly Corfield Carr, Subsong.
Alice Oswald, Falling Awake
High ISO & sound visualisation for live performance
I would like to use the residency period to experiment with how aspects of the video or text could accompany the live music performance. For instance I have started to overlay the highly pixilated footage shot with the highest ISO on my camera over the sound of the birdsong vinyl and BirdWorld music as a test. I’m interested in how the composition and visuals can enforce this state between definition and disappearance. For instance if we can think of melody as clarity, something that the ears can make sense of and that potentially gives the body a sense of ground and countering this would be the cacophonous as wild, scratchy, blurry that disrupts and un-grounds the ears.
High ISO and Sound Visualisation for live performance