“If the dust of drawing is alive, it is both because of its entanglement with language… and its ability to elicit something less easy to articulate in words, something that happens in the blind spots of representation.” (David Musgrave, Living Dust)
Our first project consists of ‘drawing’ ; to use ideas, technologies and cultural contexts to develop year one work practice. They gave us three nominated sites and I chose St George’s Square; ” Known for its classical style facade with a portico of the Corinthian order, consisting of six columns in width and two in-depth facing out towards Lion Buildings.” My immediate thought was drawing the surrounding buildings; all the architecture and historical figures, however my tutor brought to my attention that we were to ‘survey’ first, and pointed out the large group of pigeons everywhere. They were as much a resident of town as I was and I live here. So I took to photographing them and a video; all are jumpy and lacking in any quality and call for another few trips out.
I did some research into pigeons, and they’re very popular birds for complaints, experiments and obsession. My personal opinion of them are very low; but some of the pages i found; from pigeon racing to pigeons studying art, cover the birds in varying degrees of interest to me and potential to change the course of my project.
One particular site, which has become my new favourite: Yatzer, yielded the project “Decadent Pigeons” by Lisa Klappe and Joachim van den Hurk. It’s a series of photographs and light sculptures of pigeons and people; all drawing parallels between the two species behaviour, through movements, appearance and symbolism. “The appreciation of this society of species depends on our mental state. The reversed commercialism has created a perverse relationship, with the animal in question.” The exhibition has a series of photos with bland grey shades, faded lighting and a creepy lack of expression on all of the models which is rather the point as Klappe and Hurk “drew the not very roseate conclusion that if we continue this way, we will end up being exactly as those birds; grey shadows, still further removed from out nature, dismally bored and scandalously discontented.”
There are various pages with pigeons used in research; as their intelligence is enough that they can work on two separate stimuli at once, although their skill at each lowers with however many stimuli there are. They also have a good memory; being able to recall large numbers of individual images for several years. There are studies testing their ability to find food; “Scroungers did not learn the food finding technique from a conspecific tutor, the producer” and studies comparing humans and birds; “identifying new similarities between avian and human cognition. As examples of research, we describe three similarities between avian and human attention, specifically in spatial attention, local/global attention and selective attention.” and also others studying the behavioural comparisons; A risk experiment was conducted to compare what humans and pigeons would risk and what for. Overall; “the data suggests that the largest and smallest rewards experienced are overweighted in risky choices. Although both species were more risk seeking for larger rewards than for smaller ones. This observed bias towards extreme outcomes represents a key step towards a consilience of those two disparate literatures, identifying common features that drive risky choice across phyla.”