Research indicates we are living through the “Sixth Extinction” where loss of species and biodiversity is occurring at an alarming rate. Across culture and continent, birds are seen as “message bearers” able to communicate the future, announce changes in weather and warn of coming disaster. Viewed by many to be barometers of changing habitats and environmental health, it has been estimated that almost a third of all bird species will have disappeared by the end of this century. Approximately 3 billion birds migrate every year across the Arabian Peninsula providing a unique cross‑continental bridge. These important flyways are under threat due to issues such as urbanization, climate change, hunting, and pollution. In addition, there are at least 30 nomadic bird species on the Peninsula that are characterized by regional irregular and unpredictable migratory movements in response to conditions and availability of resources.
As an interdisciplinary artwork Birding the Future explores these issues and current extinction rates by specifically focusing on the warning abilities of birds. An outdoor sound installation is paired with a stereoscopic image walk as participants are guided through a journey of extinction. This global project is designed as a series of local, site‑specific works. This session places Birding the Future in a regional context by facilitating a roundtable discussion with ornithologists, birders, and other local experts. As a project utilizing technological reproduction as the only means to hear and see certain species, Birding the Future will serve as the springboard to begin this interdisciplinary dialogue. Focus will be on migratory and nomadic birds and ways in which local issues connect and map global concerns. Specific questions that will be posed include: What might happen as the messages of birds are increasingly being silenced? How can traditional ecological knowledge be combined with technological advances to increase awareness of our role in the environment? What does it mean that we can only see and hear extinct species through technology? birdingthefuture.net
- Krista Caballero, University of Maryland, US, is an interdisciplinary artist exploring issues of agency, survival, and environmental change in a more-than-human world.
- Frank Ekeberg (Norway) is a transdisciplinary artist, music composer and researcher working in the intersection of art, science and technology.