Flight Rope is a coastal installation meant to raise awareness about marine duck migration in Rhode Island. Each year, thousands of sea birds come from distant northern lands to the shores of Rhode Island. Although the cycle of migration happens every year, it often goes unnoticed by locals. Additionally, many people are oblivious to the environmental factors that affect the health and livelihood of the great number of birds that spend a significant part of their lives in New England. The installation piece was designed to stay on site in a high-traffic coastal hiking area. The video was filmed along the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island.
Preparation involved a number of research and design projects specific to sea duck migration. The piece below is a manual flight pattern map I created to allow scientists to easily map out the distribution of toxins from mussels - which are eaten by migrating marine ducks and defecated out in other locations - thus geographically spreading the toxins. The orange elastic bands represent flight patterns, while different sizes of brass rings indicate levels of toxicity at key locations. The bands and brass rings are movable, so different patterns can easily be mapped out as needed. The image on the bottom right is an inspirational research image of a traditional Inuit sea map made with wooden bands. I use pieces like this for reference. As an anthropologist, I take design inspiration from traditional or local culture when I can.
The installation represents the culmination of a longer process that involved ongoing marine duck research and a variety of design challenges. The images below represent various parts of the research and design process.