Part of Dreaming in Everywhen


Jakob Kudsk Steensen

(Denmark/United States)
2018-2019 – 2D video

Duration 14 minutes and 16 seconds

RE-ANIMATED is based on the last Kaua’i ʻō’ō bird, which died in 1987, marking the extinction of the species. In 2009, its mating call – first recorded in 1975 and later digitised in an ornithology lab in New York – was uploaded to YouTube. Since then, the song of the Kaua’i ʻō’ō calling in vain to a mate who was no longer there has been played more than half a million times.

RE-ANIMATED is a response to this mating call. It is a magnificent reanimation of the bird and its song, and a meditation on our paradoxical techno-scientific trajectory. The video takes us into a distorted digital reconstruction of the Kaua’i ʻō’ō ’s original habitat on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. As a digital gardener, the artist collected through algorithms a myriad of animals and plants which he programmed to colonise the island. The virtual landscape is a magic ecosystem filled with water, light, plants, birds, fish, and insects, and a biotechnological laboratory for a resurrected, monstrously-sized bird. Jacob Kudsk Steensen’s virtual island also echoes computer simulation models that climate scientists use to predict future climate scenarios for life on earth.



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