Wednesday, June 21, 2006 9:25 AM  

work of jasper van den brink

on the next opening, Jasper van den Brink will show "pigeons don't fly at night" the following text is an explanation how he came to the work.

I spent the cold winter of 2004 at an artist residency in Stockholm. Around this time of the year, Stockholm becomes light at 10 am and is already becoming dark again by 2 pm. I noticed that these circumstances, which confused my biological clock, strongly influenced my daily life and my experiences.
That’s how the idea came of releasing over the city a large flock of pigeons with LED lights connected to their legs so that people walking below could observe a marvellous light dance in the sky. These LED lights are very small and don’t trouble the pigeons at all. Because homing pigeons always want to fly home straight away, the lights can be easily removed after the flight.
My interest in pigeons originates from my passion for aerial photography and aerial film recordings. For example, in both world wars, pigeons were used for spying activities. Besides sending airmail, pigeons could be equipped with a small camera for taking aerial photographs. Keeping pigeons was generally forbidden or restrained during World War II and the Germans handed out severe punishment for those who disobeyed.
Unfortunately, I ended up cancelling the project. It turned out that pigeons cannot easily find their way home in the dark because they navigate by the sun. Recent research indicates, however, that pigeons have two additional navigational tools - a magnetic compass and a scent compass. Little information is available about the composition of the “maps” or “charts” that pigeons use in combination with these compasses. But it is clear that navigation does not depend on any one system, and in fact it is possible, albeit difficult, to train pigeons to become so-called “night flying pigeons.” Part of the special training entails chasing them back into the dark when they want to return before dusk. And they will be able to fly at night only if their biological clock is as completely reset as mine was.
The picture, Pigeons Don’t Fly At Night. #2, is part of my ongoing research to train pigeons to fly at night.

The text was writen by Jasper van den Brink for Cabinet Magazine New York, Issue 21, about Electricity.


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