A Captive Audience


More harm than good
August 30, 2010, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Development | Tags: , ,

Particularly as the intention of this project is to provoke messages around sustainability, I am aware of the potential to create more harm than good, even while the intention might be perfectly honorable.

Musing on the phrase more harm than good led me to think about another phrase; Looks can be deceiving.  When I began to create the wrapped threads from the collected and found materials an urban bird’s nest came to mind.  At some point I must have seen a bird’s nest with man made materials woven among the natural ones.  How resourceful, I thought, that a bird might adapt to its urbanised environment by using Its traditional nest building techniques alongside discarded human litter.  The randomness of the waste is given order, shape and pattern by the bird’s deft work. I represented this in my visual diary below.

I imagined a photographer might have captured many splendid nests such as this for my design inspiration however The RSPCA World of Animal Welfare site told a counter tale:

“Magpies, Crows, Currawongs and Butcher birds build stick nests which are sometimes quite elaborate. You can help them nest safely by keeping your rubbish in a bin where Black and white birds can’t get at it. Firstly because they may forage in rubbish inadvertently getting it caught around their feet, body or beaks, and secondly, because they may use it as nesting material. Basically they will use string, twine, wire, wool, netting or any material they can find to build a nest. When the chicks grow up in the nest, their feet and legs often get entwined in this rubbish. Many of these birds become attached to the nest and the tree branch. They become tethered to the nest as if they are on a lead and when they fledge (try to leave the nest to fly) they are either totally unable to leave or injured and deformed rendering them unable to forage, perch and therefore live a healthy life.”

Another example of an enticing image is the one below of a 90 kilo cluster of fishing net and debris which can trap marine life. One cannot help but be drawn to the beautiful and sculptural nature of the work first before understanding its ecological ramifications second. Looks can be deceiving.

I acknowledged the unfortunate story of the birds and pressed on with wrapping strips of fabric in a mixture of nylon, cotton, metallic and wool threads.  See here a selection of the cords.

The artwork below titled Up Drop is by Aurora Robson

In an interview in Issue 36 of Frankie Magazine, Robson says of her work “I felt guilty making more ‘stuff’ in a world that I already saw as having too much stuff – or maybe more than that, seeing ‘stuff’ being very unevenly distributed and made with planned obsolescence or blatant disregard for the limited resources on this planet that we are all lucky enough to be living on. Once I embraced PET bottles as a sculpting medium I started to feel much more excited by all the challenges associated with working with ‘trash’”

I do not mean to judge Robson’s methods or question whether or not it comprises more harm than good.  I do not know enough about her work to be able to say.  I use the example because I have inferred from her statements that as an artist, she finds the process of using the found objects around her morally rewarding.  As have I.  The question I would like to now ask myself is, do my cords do more harm than good?

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