Shoretimescape [working title]
The work is envisioned as an experience with different layers for both kids and adults. The audioscape of voices provide the experience of explorative walking and listening to a shared sense of wonder about the birds and different aspects of their journeys. This will be joined by an Augmented Reality layer created to engage both kids and adults with the visual world of the birds.
Visual style: Visual developments are underway based on a child-friendly, playful, clay-like approach for the AR graphics experience. The artists will create a base of fun, sculpted versions of the birds and all of their food on the mudflats – worms, centipede-like creatures of the polychaete families. These will animate and appear and disappear into the ground from the perspective of the visitor.
Created via hand-modelling that is then 3D-scanned (see tests below), this workflow is to allow for the AR space to be added to over time via the below creative workshops with people including kids and families. Some existing and new modelling in Blender, will allow the armatures to be added for animation – initially via the Auto-Rig Pro, and a consistency created using clay-effect via the Clay Doh Blender and other hand craft textural plugins.
Please check back for further updates soon. Our in-progress working notes are available on this document:
Creative workshops: As noted, the base of creatures in this AR world is planned to be added to via workshops with kids in the various locations, where their sculptures of the creatures are 3D scanned, given rigs/armatures for animation and added to the artwork. These could be done at the various artwork locations – Aotearoa, Brisbane (if supported), and Dandong – at different stages of its development, and could be a continual way to add content and build local and international community around the artwork and therefore the birds.
This artwork allows us to immerse ourselves in tidal time through the imagined eyes and ears of the migratory shorebirds of Moreton Bay, to connect to their stories and with the people across the world who love them.
Large concentric circles whose outer edges veer off into spirals are mown or chalked to represent different interlinking cycles and scales of time – tidal, seasonal, cosmological, echoing back into an ancient vastness. Within these the visitor encounters a layering of sounds and visuals – of the shorebirds and their environments, interactive visuals of their life events and encounters, and the birds’ voices being joined by the wonder, awe and curiosity of those who are fascinated by them.
Thus as the visitor walks they are guided through the spaces and stories of the birds through the placement of physical markers, seemingly hand-made/drawn AR objects, and the layered soundscape of voices, field recordings, biomusic (DNA), celestial and local tidal rhythm patterns – seen and heard via their phones. The mix of elements represent or reflect the stories within each cycle.
For example visitors might choose to walk through a path of spherical objects, ever-increasing in scale and rusty in colour, as the birds get fatter and fatter and grow breeding plumage in preparation to migrate North. At this point the visitor hears the birds’ excitement and twitter… and is invited to record an audio message or choose one to send with the birds to their next destination, the Yellow Sea of China. Or they can listen to what others have recorded. As the circles are also able to indicate the globe, voices from researchers and birders from different countries can be placed at an indicative ‘global location’ on the installation.
In this way the work will connect people across the flyway to the birds, and to each other. Visitors will be able to walk and hear different global perspectives, messages from visitors, and to leave their own messages. The intent is to replicate the digital work in other countries along the flyway so as to increase this exchange and build awareness of the birds’ amazing and increasingly treacherous global journey. Millions share the wonder of these birds, but may also soon lose them.
Shorebird populations are in rapid decline worldwide but especially on our flyway because it is the most heavily populated flyway. Tidal flat reclamation pressure is immense and is why the development of the Yellow Sea is the greatest threat to the birds’ survival on the East Asian Australasian flyway – our north/south migration flyway. Without spaces like these they cannot refuel on their way north or they are weak and perish or cannot breed. Urgent profile raising is needed to better value the coastal margins of benthic mudflats to prevent events such as the tragic loss of the Saemangeum mudflats which greatly accelerated rates of decline.
Shorebird organisations, scientists and advocates are trying to raise the alarm, such as the East Asian Australasian Flyway (a network made up of 22 countries, including government agencies) and the Pūkorokoro Shorebird Centre who has a long-term relationships with China, having established Yalu Jiang Reserve there.
Therefore the installation site plan is for Brisbane (ISEA, and to seek a long term partner) and Pūkorokoro (Aotearoa New Zealand) and then Dandong (China) and/or South Korea.
In this globally connected way, the work is conceived as a long-term, community space that is inclusive of indigenous perspectives on the birds in each country. The Pūkorokoro Shorebird Centre has a partnership with the Mana Whenua here of Ngāti Paoa – the Māori group of Pūkorokoro for whom the birds are a taonga (treasure). Hence, as we develop the work these conversations will continue, and we wait to see what conversations might develop with Joondoburri and Gubbi Gubbi peoples, whose land we will be living and working on while at the artist residency in Yarun/Bribie Island in November. We hope to do a first small core install at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum, for their exhibition Taking Flight: Amazing migratory shorebirds in December 2023.