Magazine article Sculpture

North Adams, Massachusetts

Magazine article Sculpture

North Adams, Massachusetts

Article excerpt

Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris

MASS M°CA

In the 18th century, the world's most common bird may have been Ectopistes migratorius, the passenger pigeon. Estimated at three to five billion in number, these birds made up a quarter of the total avian population in North America when the first European settlers arrived. Faced with a steep decline in their habitat as the countryside was colonized, and then hunted in mass culls to fill the appetite of a growing country, the last passenger pigeon died in captivity in 1914. By the mid-20th century, the bird had come to symbolize the extremes of environmental depredation. To mark the centennial of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris collaborated with writer Elizabeth Kolbert to create Eclipse.

Eclipse-titled after Audubon's comparison between the darkened skies caused by a flock passing overhead and a solar eclipse-projects a video loop of seemingly innumerable pigeons in reverse-negative silhouette. Illuminating a wall and a four-story-high ceiling inside a narrow, darkened lightwell between two buildings, the 100-foot projection starts at the far wall with birds filling, and then emptying out from, a full-sized tree. The figures blur overhead at 60 miles per hour, their actual flight speed. Layers of processed sound, scored by Matthew Patterson Curry and Sayler and Morris, artfully mimic the noise produced by millions of pigeons flying by hour after hour. The effect is disorienting and mesmerizing.

The installation also includes photographs by Sayler and Morris, archival images, and a handsome newsprint take-away with an essay by Kolbert, "Requiem for Martha," the last passenger pigeon. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.