Monday, April 18, 2011

Bird's-eye view

Coming from a weekend of lenseless photography at Pinhole Days 2011 in Rome, during which I held a lecture about the many faces of pinhole in contemporary photography, I felt that I wanted to share with all of you some of the beautiful discoveries I made while researching material for my slideshow.

I'll start with the work that actually ended my presentation,
A heartwarming feeling by the Singaporean photographer Zhao Renhui. There can't be better words to introduce it than the ones Renhui himself wrote:

"Climate change has significant impact on birds. It can alter distribution, abundance and behavior. It can also affect events like bird migration. [...]

A recent phenomenon in the Arctic Circle is the emergence of mass bird graves. It seems as if different species of migrating birds due for the south has been flying the opposite direction, in an apparent act of suicide. Very little research has been done on this phenomenon. [...] "

"On January 2008, I collaborated with the Yamshina Institute for Ornithology (a regional expert in bird banding) in an attempt to document this phenomenon during an artist residency. A group of a few thousand migratory birds were banded by the Institute over the course of two months. Besides banding the birds with a metal band on their legs, I included a small pin-hole camera near each band. Inside each camera was a very small sheet of positive photographic paper of extremely low sensitivity. [...]

On June 2010, 50 of the birds were dead found in the Arctic Circle. 30 of the birds still had their cameras intact and 12 of the cameras actually created an image of the bird's rather confused migratory journey to the Arctic."

"What I found intriguing when I enlarged the images was that much of the bird's journey might have been captured (recorded while it was flying, never long enough to register a still) in all the blurry colourful hues we see in the images. Parts of the mountainous Arctic landscape, however, registered quite clearly. The only way that these landscapes could have formed on the paper was when the bird came to a final rest and laid on the ice, because that would give the pin-hole camera enough time to form a clear and still image - which is probably the last view of the bird before it died."

- Zhao Renhui, October 2010, Yamanshina.

All images © Zhao Renhui


Anonymous said...

Autore eccellente e poliedrico. Lo ricordo nel 2010 finalista in due categorie al Sony Award con due lavori eccellenti sul paesaggio (The Blind e Pulau Pejantan). Originale nei temi e figurativamente molto accattivante. Stefano

Anonymous said...

si, ma zhao's work is all one big joke. a very clever joke, ma cmq un joke.