a nonlinear artwork for wild 2002 : : birds and feathers


"The devastation of avian species that accompanied the Polynesian colonization of Oceanic Pacific islands is now well recognized, due substantially to the work of David Steadman. In his contribution to this volume, Steadman describes the reciprocal relationships between humans and birds in Polynesia and Melanesia, first noting the extinction and extirpation of bird species due to direct human predation and other anthropogenic factors (habitat loss, forests destruction, and predation by pigs, rats and dogs). 

Secondly, Steadman notes the utility of birds to the Polynesians as food, navigation aides, and sources of feathers and bones for tools. Drawing on the ethnographic record to document the relationship between birds and Polynesians, Steadman describes the increasing pace of avian and habitat extinction in Polynesia since European contact when market production and population pressure required expansion of agriculture and exacerbated deforestation."

Source: Review of Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society VOLUME 6 (1999) Historical Ecology in the Pacific Islands: Prehistoric Environmental and Landscape Change. Edited by Patrick V. Kirch and Terry L. Hunt, New Haven: Yale University Press (1997). 331 pp. Reviewed by Charles J. Stevens, Program in Population Research, University of California - Berkeley.

Somehow, feathers mean more than that to Polynesians. Here is a link to the Bishop Museum Hawaii feather page.


"The early Hawaiians had a little-known tradition of featherwork, both in wearing apparel and feather fans, as evidenced by the examples collected on one of the expeditions of Captain Cook in the 1700s. Because the volcanic islands lacked precious metals or gemstones, the Polynesians and later the Hawaiians came to treasure natural materials such as feathers, Niihau shells, and whale ivory for their beauty and rarity.

Feathers have been associated with wealth in many cultures. In the Solomon Islands, large coils of feathers were even used for currency. Flight has always symbolized freedom and spiritual power, and feathers were used not only by the American Indians in their familiar headdresses, but also in delicate fans used by the Emperors of China. In old Hawaii, the feather cape became a symbol of power, not unlike the crown of a European monarch."

Source: http://www.hanacoast.com/McCormick.HTML


The bird in the photo above is a Tui, a native of New Zealand Aotearoa.


documentation of installed wild2002 component