A new art installation that uses augmented reality is transforming Battery Park City into a bird watcher's paradise.
Starting today, Earth Day, those who walk along Battery Park City's riverfront, from South Cove north along Rockefeller Park, will be able to access an invisible world of birds with their phones.
Named "Bird’s-Eye View," this new artwork by New York City-based artist Shuli Sadé showcases 30 species of birds that seek temporary or permanent refuge near Manhattan’s waterways via photographs and original watercolors by Sadé through the Adobe Aero app and a smartphone camera. All you need to do is scan one of 70 QR codes on any of the 14 signs along the water to view local birds and explore their habitats and migratory patterns.
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"Bird’s-Eye View" is inspired by the flight patterns of birds above the Hudson River and along Battery Park City’s gardens and parks. Sadé used scientific drawings, sounds and migration maps, courtesy of the Audubon Society, to bring her installation to life. Once you scan the QR code, you'll instantly hear their birdsongs and see the birds that frequent the area in flight. Signs along the riverfront provide more information about the birds and lines of poetry that were carefully selected to "draw parallels between the repetitive nature of bird sounds and syllables in poems, which also serve as a source of inspiration to many poets," according to The Battery Park City Authority.
"One of the early goals of this artwork was to heighten our awareness of the environment in urban surroundings," Sadé said. "Behind the origin of this project is the wish to share the discovery of the incredible bird species that migrate to Battery Park City. There are similarities between birds’ navigation and the geolocation technology used to experience augmented reality."
By using AR, Sadé was able to create a fusion between reality and illusion by allowing people to engage with not only the birds but the motion of the tides on the lower Hudson River as well as activities on land, river and sky, according to Abby Ehrlich, BPCA’s Director of Community Partnerships and Public Art.
"This site-specific installation was conceptualized with Battery Park City’s pioneering practices and genuine commitment to environmental stewardship in mind," she said. "Shuli Sadé’s Bird’s-Eye View explores and shares images that she develops with her mastery of the latest technology, hand-painted interpretations of birds, poetry excerpts selected to inspire wonder, and careful study of BPCA’s commitment to environmental sustainability. We are honored and inspired by Shuli’s innovative, temporal installation that bridges the potential of technology to bring viewers close to nature in a new way."
Battery Park City, a 92-acre neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, is on its way toward being a "biodiversity haven," according to B.J. Jones, President & CEO of the BPCA.
"Our strategic plan charges us with both establishing Battery Park City as a biodiversity haven and bringing to our community temporary art installations that transform our public space, encourage social cohesion, and promote awareness about cultural and civic challenges," he said. "We are delighted to bring Bird’s-Eye View to our waterfront for those dual purposes. Through augmented reality and limited impact on our physical environment, this installation highlights the myriad species of birds that—thanks to the Authority’s sustainability, horticulture, and resiliency efforts—call our community home."
"Bird’s-Eye View" is now open—on Earth Day, April 22, 2022. Don't miss an opening night artist talk with Sadé and a performance of flamenco guitar at South Cove from 5-7pm. Another artist talk with acclaimed environmentalist and artist Mary Miss, one of the co-designers of South Cove, will also take place on May 6, 2022.
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