Bird's Eye View of London

The common phrase 'bird's eye view' generally assumes that the power of birds to surveil a wide plane endows winged creatures with a greater, more perfect picture of a place, and perhaps even its people. More recently, birds have participated in surveillance infrastructures through their hosting of RFID chips. Artists Marcus Kirsch and Jussi Ängeslevä argue that pigeons have 'become maverick messengers in the information super-highway, fusing feral and digital networks,' and they take advantage of this scenario in their project, Urban Eyes. This multimedia work 'uses wireless technology, birdseeds, and city pigeons to reconnect urban dwellers with their surroundings.' When tagged birds, in London, land on feeding platforms, aerial images of their location are sent to nearby bluetooth devices. By tracing the travels of pigeons, which are quite complexly patterned despite being confined to within one mile of their nests, the artists remind Londoners of the significance of their underappreciated neighbors and suggest that their social lives can tell us something about our own models of interaction and mobility. Through July 9th, the House of Technologically Termed Practice (HTTP Gallery) will exhibit live and archived documentation of the project. - Marisa Olson