Flying Gardens of Maybe
2012 - present
Flowering plants hustle their seeds throughout the landscape by exploiting animals' desire for fruit, or even the seeds themselves. Birds can eat and pass seeds of a variety of species within a given day - as such they are winged couriers for the future generations of plants.
Millions of birds die every year when they collide with buildings. During the day windows mirror the surrounding landscape, creating an illusion of space; at night they are attracted to the lights of buildings and don't see the glass.
If the birds die with the seeds they carry, then those seeds become ends without means, orphaned of their living vehicles. Hundreds of millions of seeds must never get a chance to try their luck at sprouting. It is a vast ecology of interruption.
Hundreds of birds collide daily with the glass buildings of Chicago, birthplace of the "skyscraper," especially during the migratory seasons. The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (CBCM) work as an all-volunteer group to look for and retrieve birds that have been waylaid by our expanding architectures.
The monitors bring the birds to the Field Museum of Natural History where they are cataloged, skinned, and cleaned - feathers and skeletons becoming part of an unfortunate archive of avian flux.
The guts are usually thrown away, together with the store of seeds - all those trees and flowers to be - tucked within their bellies. Emeritus collections manager David Willard generously lends me his ornithological expertise by IDing the birds and saving their stomachs so I can dissect them later.
Gleaning from what the birds themselves foraged, their stomachs are a trove of bites and bits: shiny beetle carapaces, centipede legs, and seeds of every size and shape. It is a matter of collecting - and come spring, planting - them in hopes of a Garden of Maybe; makeshift eco-engineering of propagation and resurrection..
Components include ceramic vessels for the reclaimed seeds to sprout within, photographic documentation, postcards, diagrams, and the seed archive itself.
Overview: parts & process
Swainson's Thrush Garden
Cedar Waxwing Garden
Canada Goose Garden
White Throated Sparrow Garden
Blue Jay Garden
White Throated Sparrow call
motion activated in installation