All the Birds I Saw Last Year, 2018

All the Birds I Saw Last Year is a graphical listing of the 14,136 bird sightings I made between September 18th, 2017 and September 17th, 2018. The project was exhibited at the Central Art Garage in Ottawa in the fall of 2018.

All the Birds I Saw Last Year is my attempt to portend something of our future through the dedicated observance of local bird populations. By charting every bird I see – no matter how incidental – some rhythms or patterns might emerge that are telling of the health of our shared environment. As we wade into the Anthropocene Epoch however, the act of observing nature and nature itself has been inexorably altered by human activity and I fear what the birds might tell me.

Still, there is beauty in the pursuit. Making visual the ambient presence of the birds within our midst is pleasantly overwhelming. Each of the thousands of bird illustrations is a stand-in for being so particularly evolved and so innately beautiful as to boggle the mind. The unspoken instruction of the exhibition is to be a better observer of one’s surroundings and, by extension, a better steward of nature.

Michael Davidge wrote a review for Canadian Art, which was published December 13, 2018. It can be viewed here:

May – August prints, 2018, inkjet print, each 111×33”, photo credit: Julia Martin

May-June prints (detail), 2018, inkjet print, each 111×33

Average Bird 2017-2018 and Legend, 2018, inkjet print, each 30×33”, photo credit: Julia Martin

Notes and bird watching paraphernalia, 2018, photo credit: Julia Martin

Average Bird 2017-2018, 2018, inkjet print, 30×33” Using the year’s bird data and morphing software, an average bird was created for the year.