If, by some stretch of the imagination, the end timers have it right, I hope artist Dennis Hlynsky will consider setting up his tripod as demons spew forth from the earth’s crust.
His small brains en masse project has me convinced that he is the perfect person to capture such an event. Have a look at how he documents the comings and goings of birds.
I’ve never experienced a starling murmuration myself, outside of the famous, shot-on-the-fly footage (right above) of Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith, indie filmmakers who chanced to find themselves in the right canoe at the right time, ornithologically speaking. I admire these young women’s sang-froid. I would’ve been cowering and slashing at the air with my paddles. That funnel cloud of black wings is unnerving even from the safe remove of my living room, but a groovy soundtrack by Nomad Soul Collective encourages even the most bird-phobic amongst us (me) to see it as something gorgeous and awe-inspiring, too.
Hlynsky doesn’t attempt to lead the witness with reassuring sound cues. Instead, he amps up the creepy via “extruded time,” layering sequences of frames atop one another until the darkest pixels become tracers emphasizing flight paths. The combination of everyday sound and visual portent makes it dreadfully easy to imagine one’s truck breaking down at an intersection right around the 7 minute mark.
Perhaps I’ve seen too many zombie movies.
Or have I?
Hlynsky is obviously fascinated by nature, but he also states that “to some degree these videos are studies of mob behavior. Are these decisions instinctual or small thoughtful considerations? Does one leader guide the group or is there a common brain? Is a virus a single creature or a diffused body that we inhabit?”
Put another way, perhaps there’s a reason it’s called a murder of crows, as opposed to a brunch, hug or sweatshirt of crows. Hlynsky, who’s the type of guy to seek their company out, describes his time spent filming them to be among the most “exceptional, spooky and beautiful” moments of his life.
As for these New Jersey seagulls, “throw a french fry in the air and within 30 seconds the entire screech of birds will come.” Yikes. Here, extruded time conspires with the ambient sounds of a boardwalk amusement park, in a tour-de-force of avian-inspired psychic unrest.
Paging Tippi Hedren… I’m out of here!