Drawing the extinction crisis.
Journal article, 2022.
Tracey, vol 16(1) Drawing and Loss.
Download the PDF via the journal site.
Abstract: ‘Precarious Birds’ is an ongoing collaboration in which the authors give form to the complexities of human/avian entanglement in the extinction crisis, through creative practice: drawing, writing, collage and cross stitch poems. This paper frames the collaboration as an ‘expanded conversation’. Our definition of expanded conversation draws from the Phenomenology and Imagination Research Group, as well as a Research through Design (RtD) methodology in which research aims and questions emerge through critical documentation of iterative creative practice. In this paper we use the unfolding creative process responding to two birds – Laysan Duck and Passenger Pigeon – to argue for the value of an ‘expanded conversation’ approach, which blends qualitative and quantitative, professional and personal, written and material outcomes in response to the extinction crisis, to mitigate against ecological amnesia. The paper aims to translate our expanded conversation onto the page, by writing in first person and ‘interrupting’ each other, as we would while working. It threads traces of our collaborative, material processes in a way that further expands the conversation by inviting the reader to consider our material thinking as a form of action/activism.
Thinking-with Regent Honeyeaters: on homes and futures for a critically endangered species
Journal article, 2023.
Unlikely, issue 8 Birds and Language
This article outlines one aspect of the Precarious Birds project: our approaches to ‘communicating’ with and about the captive Regent Honeyeaters at Taronga Zoo (Sydney), through a series of monthly visits over eighteen months, and interviews with people who study and care for the birds. We report on our mixed-method approach that includes interviews with people and on-site conversations with the birds. We ask a range of questions in relation to a nomadic species going extinct due to habitat loss, focusing on concepts of home and futures. We conclude by thinking-with our interviewees about what it means to have hope in relation to conservation and extinction, and point to where the project will go next.
Conversations with Regent Honeyeaters: Part One.
Visual essay, 2021.
A visual essay commissioned by artist Fernando do Campo, as part of the Reader accompanying the first iteration of his To Companion a Companion exhibition at Contemporary Art Tasmania, 23 Jan – 28 Feb 2021. A PDF can be viewed or downloaded via Fernando’s site: www.companioncompanionreader.com
Avian Climate Messengers
Visual Essay, 2022.
Climate Domesday Book, exhibited at John Curtain Gallery, Western Australia as part of the Energaia: Imagining Energy Futures exhibition curated by Stuart Bender and Rachel Robertson.
Talks and EVENTS
Birds and Language
Conference presentation, 2021.
Conference abstracts available here.
Our accepted abstract:
This paper responds to the provocation ‘how do birds and humans communicate with each other, and what might we learn from such exchange’ by describing a series of monthly encounters with the captive Regent Honeyeaters at Taronga Zoo, intended to inform the authors’ creative practice. The Regent Honeyeater is a critically endangered Australian bird, and Taronga Zoo leads a breeding program to mitigate against the species’ imminent extinction. We outline our approaches to ‘communicating’ with these birds. First, an evolving series of questions we pose to help us foster empathy with the birds. For example, what is a home to a nomadic bird and what might ‘future’ mean to a captive bird? Second, dedicating time to regularly visit the birds, documenting our encounters with field notes and audio-visual recording. Finally, producing visual and material artefacts in response to our observations and research about the birds. Through this process of attempting to communicate with and about the birds, we learn to value slow processes, plurality and other-than-human perspectives.
This process is part of a larger, ongoing creative collaboration titled ‘Precarious Birds’ in which we explore ways we, as designers, can give form to the complexities of human/avian entanglement in the extinction crisis, through material and visual creative practice.
In Conversation: Designing with Companions
3.00pm Saturday 26 June, 2021 | Online
A one-hour talk about the Precarious Birds collaboration, alongside Fernando do Campo’s exhibition To Companion A Companion, in its second iteration at UNSW Gallery.