Fragile, 2014, video, boxes, clay targets, safety fence barrier, h.12’ x w.12’ x d.12’
The interactive installation, Fragile, correlates the historic decimation of the Passenger Pigeon with modern day pigeon shoots. It links the waste, vulgarity and greed of the past with the present. The viewer experiences this installation by walking into a dark room to view a video that is obscured in the back. The floor is covered with hundreds of orange clay targets, ironically called “clay pigeons.” The room is surrounded with stacks of cardboard target boxes. The participant must pass through an orange safety net to enter an area to view the video. This enclosure creates the feeling of being trapped. The video depicts a present day event called a pigeon shoot, where thousands of pigeons are shot and maimed in one afternoon. The video has a sepia tone to reflect historical photos of piles of harvested Passenger Pigeons. In this present day event, children are enlisted to dispose of maimed and injured pigeons by stomping on them or breaking their necks. It is a difficult film to watch, with much accepted and encouraged abuse by the hands of children. When leaving the video viewing area, the netting snares you. The clay pigeons, a placeholder for the extinct pigeons for which they are named, were chosen to create a visceral response to the participant both physically and emotionally. As the viewer walks into and out of the installation, they tread over the clay pigeons on the floor. The clay pigeons shatter loudly, alluding to the crack of a gun. The surface of broken shards, created by treading on the clay pigeons, is an uncomfortable surface on which to exit. The video, the materials, and the sounds create an atmosphere that forces the participant to empathize with the pigeons and to acknowledge that the present is the same as the past.