Flight and Freedom
Video. 2min 56sec. November 2018
A video about freedom and its opposite: limitation or confinement.
Freedom is expressed by the unconfined wheeling flight of the crows. Limitation is symbolised by the inert, motionless statue around which the crows are flying.
Pathos is a major ingredient of the work, because both the birds and the statue have wings, but only the birds can fly.
The unconstrained flight of the birds only serves to emphasise the fact that the statue is rooted to the spot.
The work is a comment on the desire of the creators of the statue (us) to have the power of natural flight, and their obvious inability to have it.
The statue is on Alexandra Palace in north London.
Cluster flies on a window
Video. 17 sec. Near St Ives, Cornwall. October 2018
When I made this video I assumed that the flies that it features were house flies that had been feasting on a rotting animal carcass concealed somewhere within the walls of the building. The sinisterness of the insects was intended to be a feature of the video.
Since then a bit of research has informed me that the insects were in fact harmless cluster flies (pollenia rudis).
Cluster flies enter buildings on autumn evenings in search of shelter from the worsening weather conditions. Then the following day they sometimes want to get out again, as in the video.
They may enter buildings in small numbers or they may enter in thousands. In the case in the video it was many many hundreds.
The flies live in the countryside, where their larvae feeding on earthworms. They aren’t a health hazard (as far as I know).
Knowing that the flies were harmless and had entered the building seeking shelter rather than being house flies fresh from a rotting corpse in the attic altered my view of them considerably, and I now rather like them, at least on the video. They are an inconvenience though.
I particularly like the way that the flies in the video are moving in an almost choreographed manner. It’s like a little piece of performance art.
The nice calm view out of the window (apart from a bit of wind) is in stark contrast to the dynamic motion of the flies on the window pane.
Ink on paper with digital additions. September 2018
A drawing based on an abstracted raven or crow-like bird.
The creature in this drawing is only superficially meant to resemble a raven or a crow. It’s actually meant to resemble something rather simpler – not a lot more than just a triangle on legs with a beak (Other drawings of similar creatures bear no resemblance to any recognisable biological genus at all). The body is meant to have very little form or obviously functional components (There are no eyes, wings or arms for example). The body is simply a structure for holding the legs and beak in place.
The creature is meant to convey a form of mindless brutality, largely conveyed by its posture, its lack of eyes and its vicious beak. Real crows, ravens and other members of the corvid family are, in contrast, are far from mindless, being renowned for being among the most intelligent of birds.
The image is in some ways a study in anthropomorphism. Crows are often perceived as being malevolent creatures, largely due to their appearance (The black feathers, the large beak). If I’d created the image using, say, a robin as the inspiration for the bird, would it have looked so full of foreboding to us as a human audience? Even though robins are in fact a particularly aggressive species.