Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Ornithological Rubbernecking

AA
View Discussion
Denise Batchelor, Owl Caged, at Viewfinder Denise Batchelor, Owl Caged, at Viewfinder Denise Batchelor, Owl Caged, at Viewfinder

You would be amused by these slightly frenetic antics if you didn't suspect the poor thing was distressed at its captive life in a small cage. The solitary creature looks forlorn and abandoned, even after considering the possibility of one's own projection. Are you imagining the bird's emotional state?

Auckland

 

Denise Batchelor
Owl Caged

 

18 May 2011 - 31 May 2011

This is one of a series of videos that Siobhan Garrett of the Film Archives has organised to play on Viewfinder’s flat screen in the front window of the Auckland Central Public Library. It is running continuously.

Denise Batchelor’s film shows a young owl (older than a chick, but not quite an adult) looking out towards the camera through the vertical wire bars of a cage. The twitchy scrawny bird is quite restless and curious about the onlooker, turning its head to the left or the right so its eyes are vertical or even upside down. Constantly twisting its neck - bobbing and turning so its mangy head is like a yoyo - the creature’s big yellow eyes blink at you or look away to above your shoulders.

You would be amused by these slightly frenetic antics if you didn’t suspect the poor thing was distressed at its captive life in a small cage. The solitary creature looks forlorn and abandoned, even after considering the possibility of one’s own projection. Are you imagining the bird’s emotional state?

However, it is not as heartbreaking as seeing large mammals, known to be social animals, confined to cages and alone. For example seeing a wolf frustratedly pacing up and down behind bars is considerably more disturbing because its intelligence and commonality (with us) is obvious.

Are there ways of interpreting this film beyond that of a statement about human cruelty? Say political? Looking to the left, then to the right? Or some general dissertation about freedom.

No, not really. It really centres on a statement about us - with not much leeway. It’s a condemnation of a common human vice, but doesn’t really extend far beyond that. The owl remains fascinating to watch in its own right - it watching us watching it. Perhaps that is enough.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Installation of Jeena Shin's Movement Image Time exhibition at Two Rooms. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Shin Works on Canvas and Paper

TWO ROOMS

Auckland

 

Jeena Shin
Movement Image Time

 

27 October - 25 November

JH
John Stezaker, Marriage (Film Portrait Collage) CVI, 2013, collage, 30.3 x 23.3 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and The Approach, London.

Repulsively Enchanting Stezaker

CITY GALLERY WELLINGTON

Wellington

 

John Stezaker
Lost World

 

26 August -19 November 2017

JH
Tomislav Nikolic, How Long Must We Live Right Before We Don't Even Have To Try (Role Model), 2017: #1, mixed medai; #2, mixed media; #3, mixed media;

Tomislav Nikolic Paintings

FOX JENSEN MCCRORY

Auckland

 

Tomislav Nikolic

How long must we live right before we don’t even have to try

12 October - 11 November 2017

JH
Phil Dadson: Notation  Series #6 (961), painting; Tonethrone, instrument; HEADSUP@961: 23.8.16, projection

Dadson at Headlands

AUDIO FOUNDATION

Auckland

 

Phil Dadson
Shiver Me Timbres: Solos and Collaborations with a Multi-Voiced Instrument

 

5 October - 28 October 2017