A Memorial for the Still Living. Premiered at John Hansard Gallery in Southampton. Upcoming show at the Horniman Museum in London.

Tactical Biopolitics: Art, Activism, and Technoscience. MIT Press; Leonardo Book Series. ed., Beatriz da Costa & Kavita Philip.

Invisible Earthlings Workshop. [as part of "Species We Live With"]

Pigeonblog [documentation & ephemera] on view at Sweeney Art Gallery in Riverside, CA.

The Place of Art in the Age of Biotechnological Reproducibility. (pdf) [Review of Tactical Biopolitics in "BioSocieties."]

Processes, Issues AIR: Toward Reticular Politics. (pdf) [Full fledged article about Preemptive Media's and my work in "Australian Humanities Review."]

Interview with Beatriz da Costa. (pdf) [by Alessandro Ludovico, "Neural Magazine."]

Preemptive Media Preemptive Media is a collaborative operating at the nexus of art, activism and technology.

Beatriz da Costa is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. She works at the intersection of art, politics, engineering and the life sciences.

PIGEONBLOG 2006 - 08
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Pigeonblog at 01 Festival 2006

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view original project website: Pigeonblog project website

Pigeonblog was a collaborative endeavor between homing pigeons, artists, engineers and pigeon fanciers engaged in a grassroots scientific data gathering initiative designed to collect and distribute information about air quality conditions to the general public. Pigeons carried custom-built miniature air pollution sensing devices enabled to send the collected localized information to an online server without delay. Pollution levels were visualized and plotted in real-time over Google’s mapping environment, thus allowing immediate access to the collected information to anyone with connection to the Internet.

Pigeonblog was an attempt to combine DIY electronics development with a grassroots scientific data gathering initiative, while simultaneously investigating the potentials of interspecies co-production in the pursuit of resistant action. How could animals help us in raising awareness to social injustice? Could their ability in performing tasks and activities that humans simply can’t be exploited in this manner, while maintaining a respectful relationship with the animals?

Pigeonblog was developed and implemented in the southern California region, which ranks among the top-ten most polluted regions in the country. Pigeonblog’s aim was 1) to re-invoke urgency around a topic that has serious health consequences, but lacks public action and commitment to change; 2) to broaden the notion of a citizen science while building bridges between scientific research agendas and activist oriented citizen concerns; and 3) to develop mutually positive work and play practices between situated human beings and other animals in technoscientific worlds.

When thinking of pigeons, people tend to think of the many species found in urban environments. Often referred to as “flying rats,” these birds and their impressive ability to adapt to urban landscapes isn’t always seen in a favorable light by their human co-habitants. At least by association then, PigeonBlog attempted to start a discussion about possible new forms of co-habitation in our changing urban ecologies and made visible an already existing world of human-pigeon interaction. At a time where species boundaries are being actively reconstructed on the molecular level, a re-investigation of human to non-human animal relationships is necessary.

Various Installation of Pigeonblog Documentation and Ephemera

Pigeonblog was inspired by a famous photograph of a pigeon carrying a camera around its neck taken at the turn of the twentieth century. This technology, developed by the German engineer Julius Neubronner for military applications, allowed photographs to be taken by pigeons while in flight. A small camera was set on a mechanical timer to take pictures periodically as pigeons flew over regions of interest, Currently on display in the Deutsche Museum in Munich, these cameras were functional, but never served their intended purpose of assisted spy technology during wartime. Nevertheless, this early example of using living animals as participants in early surveillance technology systems provoked the following questions: What would the twenty-first century version of this combination look like? What types of civilian and activist applications could it be used for?

Facilities emitting hazardous air pollutants are frequently sited in, or routed through, low-income and “minority” dominated neighborhoods, thereby putting the burden of related health and work problems on already disadvantaged sectors of the population who have the least means and legal recourse (particularly in the case of non-citizens) to defend themselves against this practice. Recent studies also revealed that air pollution levels in the Los Angeles and Riverside counties region are of high enough magnitude to directly affect children’s health and development.

With homing pigeons serving as the “reporters” of current air pollution levels, Pigeonblog attempted to create a spectacle provocative enough to spark people’s imagination and interests in the types of action that could be taken in order to reverse this situation. Activists’ pursuits can often have a normalizing effect rather than one that inspires social change. Circulating information on “how bad things are” can easily be lost in our daily information overload. It seems that artists are in the perfect position to invent new ways in which information is conveyed and participation inspired. The pigeons became my communicative objects in this project and “collaborators” in the co-production of knowledge.
more: download full Pigeonblog project statement (pdf)

Pigeonblog received funding and support from the Zero1 Festival and the Durfee Foundation.