Mirror Image is an installation piece that highlights the annual slaughter of millions of migratory birds in Toronto’s city centre as a result of urban architectural practice and light pollution. The work is intended as an abstract commentary on Man’s indifference to and responsibility for this deadly assault on nature. Symbolic elements of the piece include bird impressions, light and reflective glass. The ephemeral bird impressions incorporated in my installation were made through the use of real migratory birds that died as a result of building collisions. Participants are invited to control lights that when illuminated reveal the ethereal remains of birds who have collided with suspended glass panes representing the modern cityscape. The ubiquitous wall-mounted light switch is significant as it alludes to the direct cause/effect role of Man in this issue and to the availability of solutions. Glass plays a significant role in the piece, mirroring the viewer’s role, dangerous building practices and the repetitive negative effects of light pollution.
My principle objective in creating Mirror Image is to frame a contemporary and local issue about which I am passionate. Bird conservation is commonly a low profile issue in large cities. Most people are unaware that several million birds die each year after flying into the reflective glass on city centre towers during spring and fall migrations. Light pollution from the city at night and the daytime reflection from large glass structures disorient birds, rendering their natural defenses ineffective. Recent urban landscape obstacles have not dampened the centuries-old instincts that drive migratory birds. Having seen first-hand the carnage that literally rains from the skies, my hope is that my piece will raise awareness and accountability and incite change. I feel the piece has relevance in today’s growing environmentally-conscious culture where birds are understood to be an essential part of a healthy ecology. It is time to look in the mirror and re-establish a mutually beneficial and sustainable relationship with nature.
The last two days have been fantastic! Opening night was packed and I was getting a great response from people about my piece. There was, as expected, a strong reaction to the number of birds that die each year in the GTA (an estimated 9 million!). Hopefully I've gotten through to a few people about changing their habits in regards to making conscious environmental choices. Little acts like turning off your light switch make all the difference.
I found it strange that children were more likely to "play" with the light switch to reveal the bird impressions than adults. I made an effort to distinguish the switch as part of my piece by illuminating it but many people were hesitant to use it because of the "do not touch" mentality of a gallery.
check out mirror image on the meta website