The Birds and Books series was made in response to the Coutts farm in southern Alberta and use Jim Coutts long relationship with the region as inspiration for the work. Jim kept a daily journal that recorded the birds sited on his property throughout the course of the year. This journal reflected a continued intimate dialog with the land and its rhythms. Within the Coutts homestead there is also a comprehensive library of historical texts, alongside bird drawings and paintings of the surrounding landscape. All these types of medium combined comprise a complex archive of place reflected through the prism of a domestic interior.
For the Birds and Books work, I combined texts and images from books and magazines from the early 20th century to create re-imagined versions of the birds documented on the Coutts homestead. The era that the material came from reflects the time period of Jim’s life. The source material showed elements of the human effect on the environment, cultural constructions of wilderness, and include human figures. All of these components point to the close interconnected relationship humans have with ecosystems and the non-human inhabitants within these places.
The original iteration of Birds and Books work was shown alongside two videos. The first, titled Binoculars (2016. Video. 21:57) reveals a slow scan of the horizon as seen from the vantage point of the Coutts house. The video contains a mask that is meant to mimic the view that would be seen through a set of binoculars. This work is intended to reference the experience of a bird enthusiast observing the landscape.
The second work, titled East and West (2016. Video. 3:13), combines images of the forest surrounding Ottawa as filmed through the back of an 8”x10” camera. In this instance, the landscape is flipped upside down and the ground glass of the large format camera becomes the screen that focuses the projected view. This work references the time Mr. Coutts spent in the eastern part of the country, and the continued longing he had for his home in the west.It paralleled the feelings I had at the time as I lived in Ontario but was homesick for the West.