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
Robyn Maree Pickens, 'Respect the Rāhui' as installed as Te Tuhi Billboards. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Building Time Capsules

Te Tuhi Billboards

Pakuranga

 

Robyn Maree Pickens
Respect the Rāhui

 

1 December 2018 - 10 March 2019

JH
Michael Shepherd's 'Suppose The Future Fails' as installed upstairs at Two Rooms. Photo: Sam Hartnett.

Apocalyptic Maelstrom

TWO ROOMS

Auckland

 

Michael Shepherd
Suppose the Future Fails

 

30 November - 22 December 2018

JH

Classically Composed Improv

Rattle Records

Auckland

 

Eve de Castro-Robinson, with various musicians

The Gristle of Knuckles 2018

JH
Sam Hartnett's Ex Libris as installed at Objectspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett.

Three Libraries Remembered

OBJECTSPACE

Auckland

 

Sam Hartnett
Ex Libris

 

24 November 2018 - 24 February 2019