Orbital Continuum
By Jeff Marsch and Bird(s)

Started on: 06/08/09 14:55:35
Medium: Sculptural

The final form this piece took was a mobile suspended by rope from a building. A length of cotton rope suspended a three-armed disc, which on each end held a nest-shaped object consisting of chicken wire, rope, and grass. Each "nest" was connected by a balance of excess rope and dangling rocks, while a glass orb filled with birdseed hung in the middle. The piece was free-spinning, and would hold a nice elliptical orbit when blown by wind.

Bird interaction

I didn't once see a bird interacting with the sculpture. During the opening, at which I led trails of birdseed toward the area from every direction, not one bird took interest despite a large of group of them sitting in a tree within close proximity. Ironically, the day after a rain the glass orb holding the birdseed fell and broke, at which point a number of birds congregated below the sculpture to eat the seed on the ground, constituting the closest thing to legitimate interaction. In class we talked about why birds might not have wanted to interact with the piece. At first wanted to rule out the shape of the "nests", but an experience I had last week with a sparrow has made me think that the forms might have been too constrictive and inorganic. I was in my living room when a small sparrow walked in and immediately flew into the glass window. It did this repeatedly until it became exhausted and couldn't move, at which point it sat still struggling to breathe. I demonstrated repeatedly which spaces were open (doors/windows), but the information didn't register. The problem seemed to be that the bird couldn't conceive of the glass being simultaneously translucent and solid. This may have been the problem with the chicken wire and glass. At any rate, birds weren't attracted to either.


I think what really scared the birds off was the constant motion of the piece. Nothing solid on our scale of nature rotates elliptically around anything else, save for the rare occasion on which a branch is held on by a thread. The birds might not want a living space that is moved so easily by an invisible force, as they typically nest in relatively solid places (although branches sway in the wind considerably). At any rate, they were not interested. A further project might entail seeing if any form in elliptical orbit or constant motion attracted any species...

[Write Comment]