Video Conference for the Birds

'Video Conference for the Birds' a film by Marcus Coates, 2023.

For On-Site/Off-Site, Marcus Coates has revisited his original artwork 'Conference for the Birds', which was on-site at Cherryburn in 2019 and returned again in 2023 as an audio installation. Now, in this new digital work, Marcus has gathered the birds together once again to conduct their discussion onscreen.

As Marcus explains: "Thomas Bewick used wood engraving because the medium suited his extraordinary drawing skills. But, importantly it also enabled printing costs to be lower than more modern techniques, meaning his books were affordable to more of the population and therefore knowledge of the natural world was able to become more widely known for the first time. This desire to bring the natural world to a wider audience resonates with me, this is part of the motivation for re-presenting this work in a digital form. Also Bewick was a keen observer of mankind as well as the natural world, he celebrated the 'life of his age', offering depictions of human traits and traditions in his 'tail' pieces, bringing these worlds together in his books. 'Video Conference for the Birds', 2023 attempts to do this also, to give insight into both the perspectives of the human and the bird world.” 

'Video Conference for the Birds' was produced as part of the On-site/Off-site project, led by Newcastle University in partnership with the Bewick Society, National Trust and Arts&Heritage. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Film © Marcus Coates, 2023.

Read more about Marcus's original 2019 installation at Cherryburn here: 'Conference for the Birds' leaflet