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Hold onto (G)love | postal project | August 2020

A postal project in which I sent a DVD of a film of robins nesting in my shed to 50 people (30 editioned).

 

Part of an essay inspired by the robins.

[...]Amongst all this birds nested in our shed – robins. I filmed them watching a fly with avid desire (their hunger a desire to merge). A robin had come into my studio several times before the nesting, the sound of her wings alerting me to the fact as she flitted in, perching on an easel and quizzically turning her head to inspect me. I freely admit to anthropomorphism and saw her gestures as an assessment, and then an acknowledgement that I was probably not a threat. Her bold fearlessness; her luminous black eye. 

This type of visitation from robins had been reported to me many times by others alongside a superstition that related robins to a death of a loved one – that they would be seen around times of imminent mortality. 

She found a low, dark shelf in our shed and made a nest and then our negotiation began, which from a human point of view was based on establishing trust; then the performance between us began – a laying of boundaries. 

I could not see her unless I looked through the wide-open aperture of the lens, which was difficult, balancing on a lump of wood on an uneven brick floor. I was always anxious and afraid to enter, worried that my intrusive desire to capture her as an image would kill her offspring. A dangerous precipitation of death. Ethically it felt wrong, yet I reassured myself that she was not significantly concerned by my brief visits to reset the camera. Every time on these occasions, I thought it was over: she had left. But after a few minutes she would fly to the open back door of the workshop/shed and wait there, or gather food and come back. 

There were many dark days amidst this on my side – of malfunction and an intense feeling of dread. But her imperative and drive to fulfil her role was compelling and so profoundly diligent and insistent, beautiful and funny. The hilarious moments when she would try to stuff a too-large insect down the throat of a gagging fledgling. Then there was the expectation of the six chicks, disappointment and excitement – them becoming too large in the nest and barging one another in a clamour to either offer up their faeces or grab the latest delivery of fast food. I had never made such a pragmatic film before - it is not art but a catharsis. I sent it to others as a tonic. 

Those birds took over our lives, our souls, and then vanished – perhaps migrating, ingesting their internal organs to make the long flight. 

A weird coincidence: a few days ago I picked up again on my interest in quantum physics and the book opened with a narrative of bird migration. I discovered that the robin was the bird that was used in experimentation and observation by the Wiltschko’s, beginning in 1970, as to how birds know how to reach their destination when migrating. It turns out that it is probable that the robin, and also many other animal species, are quantum creatures and use ‘entanglement’ to navigate the globe with a chemical compass that is their DNA. This is inherited from ancestors that existed as long ago as 500 million years.

I was troubled, however, by various tests of trapping the birds in small bowls and putting magnets near them – their panicked claw marks showing that they were responding to the magnetic field. 

The science of entanglement swings from being troubling to wonderfully counterintuitive: with states of ‘superposition’ which entails particles being in different states simultaneously. The variable is called the elementary particle’s ‘spin’. But nothing is rotating: it’s what would have been called angular momentum in the classical sense.

The quantum biological concept for the birds' migration needs entangled pairs of particles to detect Earth’s very weak magnetic field to instruct the chemical compass in the birds’ body. It seems likely that a light sensitive pigment that is found in the eyes of some of these quantum animals (within a cryptochrome protein) uses the entanglement to enable the birds (in this case) to see the earth’s magnetic field. The Wiltschko’s demonstrated that cryptochrome from chicken’s eyes absorbed light at the same frequencies of those that are important to the magnetosphere and magnetoreception. All this guides their migration.

So now we have manufactured our first organic form from an entirely synthetic source – a bacteria – and perhaps our dread of the consequences of meddling in evolution should be a default setting that expects the worse from humans.