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.
Conversations with Regent Honeyeaters:
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
Talks and EVENTS
Birds and Language
Conference presentation, 2021.
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 | 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.