2. murmurs, 2020
Throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns of November and December 2020, I began observing the murmuration that takes place at Albert Bridge, Belfast. This culminated in filming the birds on 16mm photochemical film on the 31 December, the final date of UK’s 11-month Brexit transition period.
The term ‘murmuration’, finds its origins in the Latin murmurare, meaning ‘hum, muttering rushing’, and entered English via Old French, where it signified, ‘sound of human voices, trouble or argument’. While murmurations have long been a subject of interest, there remains little understanding of how they function, and ultimately how they collectively coordinate and position themselves in relation to one another. The birds that migrate to Northern Ireland each winter descend from Northern Europe, escaping the cooler weather in favour for milder temperatures and easier access to food. Their migratory pattern reveals mainland Europe’s close presence to Northern Ireland, and a continual flux of lifeforms between these two spaces, despite the recent political severing.
Philosopher Vinciane Despret suggests that the Covid-19 lockdowns have offered a rediscovery of something that we had forgotten; that we are not alone in this world. Moreover, she describes the idea that humans don’t share the same language as non-human animals as an “anthropocentric illusion”, and that it is up to us to learn from the other. With this in mind, murmurs considers what a sustained observation of Belfast's murmurations may offer in reflecting upon contemporary geopolitical conditions. In engaging the bridge as a site where multiple languages co-mingle, the project draws upon this intermediary space that entangles the movement of human and non-human animals.