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Friday, March 11, 2016

For The Birds - Otari Bush - Festival Show

Mark Anderson, Jony Easterby, Kathy Hinde, Marcus Mcshane and Tane Upjohn-Beatson, Johann Nortje and Cameron May, Ulf Pedersen, and Esther Tew England/Wales/New Zealand

In a strange twist of reality, I'm walking down a steep path, lit only by the nearest of LED lamps.  Over head are the squeals and screeches of digital bird calls.  Zooming past at eye level a flashing box of chatter heading off into the darkness like the passing of a No.8 bus.  In a valley suspended above the stream are metalic origami paper cranes, flying in a delicately choreographed formation and in the undergrowth are nests of ping pong ball sized lights that are holding a hug on the future prospects of the Huia.  It would be fair to say that this interpretation of all things avian is quite distinctively different.  The mere fact that nearly all physical material are man made or acquired speaks volumes about how humankind has plundered the natural world and fore sakes the bird's natural habitats, and even their feathers in the process.

This particular project will be immediately familiar to any one who saw Power Plant, their last work, at the 2014 Festival.  Once again, their's a strong thematic presence and a quirky embracing of humanity's need to duplicate the natural withthe artificial.  Early on we encounter bird cages and 'sound machines' that play like ancient music boxes.  A similar technique was used with gramophones reading says mic reports in Power Plant - humanity trying to exploit nature for their own ends.

The themes range from kiwi's to Sirocco the superstar, kākāpō to Angry Birds and Twitter, all in an attempt to reconnect us with our feathered friends.  This is a very different experience from Power Plant but one worth the journey and also a new look at a space we may have taken for granted.  I went to Scouts there about 100 year's ago and have only returned a couple of times but never in the dark.  An experience like this was, for me at least, a welcome reconnection.
All photos by Tim Gruar 
All photos by Tim Gruar

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