Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On Eagle's Wings

As many of you know who've been following my artistic journey, I've been intrigued, no perhaps inspired, or perhaps, obsessed with birds, nest, parenthood, the continual drama of life changing. Well in the way only life can supersede and inspire art, there is a real life drama being recorded and played out on the internet that aligns with my compulsion.
It is rapidly flying through social and mass media. A group called the Raptor Resource Project has two live web cams in a bald eagle nest site and they are streaming it over the web. Their mission statement says:
Established in 1988, the non-profit Raptor Resource Project specializes in the preservation of falcons, eagles, ospreys, hawks, and owls. We establish and strengthen breeding populations of these raptors by creating, improving, and maintaining nests and nest sites. In addition to directly managing over twenty-three falcon, eagle, and owl nest sites, we provide training in nest site creation and management across the United States, reach more than 85,000 people each year through lectures, education programs, and our website, and develop innovations in nest site management and viewing that bring people closer to the world around them.
There are so many intriguing pieces/questions to this project to me:
  1. why now? As I understand it this group has been video broadcasting birds for a bit, why now has this gained such popularity? Is it because of the tenuousness of present day global circumstances? Are we looking for a positive life force?
  2. the advertising—for a non-profit organization this is life support. However it is implemented poorly on this site, the advertisement placements are disruptive. Do they damage the project's objectives? How will that drama play out over time?
  3. the editing—as an avid watcher of well-produced nature documentaries—to include pieces on eagles—how will the narrative play out with social media as the interpreter?
  4. the reality of the wild—how will the audience take it for instance if the sibling eaglets kill each other as they often do in nature? Will we personify the eagle's timeless rearing and our understanding of family impact our observation and reaction? Already the actions of the female as she settles herself in the nest are being given new terms.
  5. connectivity. Always my question to modern society is how far away have we traveled from ourselves as creatures on a tentative timeline. How will this project impact our view of ourselves in relation to our planet and its purposes?
This same nest was the subject of a particularly powerful documentary on PBS http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/american-eagle/video-full-episode/4349/ from 2008. In its narrative the ver same male was featured, his female partner was blind in one eye. The filmmakers made the viewer aware of how the eagles changed their behavior to co-raise the young. Normally eagles will compete for food and are singular animals built to be predators—sharp beaks, long talons. However while nestling the birds co-depended on each other to feed and raise the young and they carefully navigated their nestlings—curling claws, guarding beaks so as not to harm the delicate babies. It was quite amazing. This newer documentary of this family will play out differently.

My ultimate questions: as creatures who are we and how do we change our natures to raise young. Why do eagles, why do we? What is their destiny and what is ours?

Follow the live drama at http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles I will! Here's a recorded clip.

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