the origin of birds

blue boat films / kathy mctavish

artist notes

The ”origin of birds” exhibit at the Prøve includes a multimedia installation and interactive web site created by a film generator that I call the “graffiti angel.” The origin of birds mixes image, sound, data, text and a live twitter stream to create a video collage / a multi-sensory torrent. The installation includes multiple projections, live performance, and QR code “portals” into an interactive web environment for viewers with mobile devices.

The Saturday workshop / discussion will take a look at creative transmedia / storytelling across boundaries. I will share examples from of artists / writers working in this emerging form. We will talk about the confluence of technology and art - drilling into some of the tools used to create the exhibit including html5, css3, javascript and Adobe Creative Cloud editing software. The workshop will be accessible to everyone.

The background story - the origin of birds:

According to an ancient Greek story, the god Chaos was the first to emerge at the creation of the universe. Soon after her came Gaia (Earth), Tartaros (the Underworld) and Eros (Love). In many versions, Chaos then gave birth to the Birds. From the primordial depths of time, from Chaos herself came these winged first beings. This wild birthing created migrations and flight.

In more recent times, soon after Darwin published his book, On the Origin of the Species, scientists began a heated debate about the origin of birds. Most scientists today believe that birds are one of the few remaining descendants of the dinosaurs.

In our own brief Anthropocene era, we are witnessing a rapid increase in the rate of extinction. We are in a geologic epoch marked indelibly by a human-created, asteroid-scale period of rapid loss of life as we know it on the planet. This planetary devastation is entering a very fast-moving era, and soon birds quite possibly will be swallowed back into some primordial chaos.

Our everyday prison stories, poverty stories, flood stories, queer stories, quest stories, death stories, immigration stories, resistance stories twist through this larger extinction story. Our lives are laced with struggle, grief and pure joy. Since I was young I had trouble holding this contradiction. I painted it out in nightly graffiti transmissions or I tried to study it, model it, prove it, resist it - to revolt. The graffiti angel provides me with some small way to hold it all - an infinite stuttering before god - a transgression / a relentless howl or noisy elegy - a way to respond, to witness.

At the Prøve I am hoping to create a story "swarm" - an immersive river. An online website and companion program notes will allow you to drill-down into individual text, image and sound pieces of the larger work - an immersive dive into the wreck - grief and ecstasy, a queer flame, a holy sanctified rejoicing amidst the rubble of it all.

thank you

The origin of birds project is funded by the Jerome Foundation. This activity is also funded by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council through the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

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