T.C.McCormack

The Decisionata
 

0918_Tegel_Layout_final-proof.jpg

There are 197 recorded species

of birds in Berlin, the

cuckoo is one of them, yet

it may soon disappear from

these skies.1 Its distinctive

song can still be heard around

the Tegel area. Cuckoos are

curious birds, much misunderstood

and very territorial, so

their presence in this vicinity

seems appropriate, even

emblematic.

A recent article in Der Spiegel

considers the unexpected nature

of the cuckoo’s migratory 

patterns, sighting BTO’s satellite

research that revealed

these birds do not migrate

in groups but plot individual

and diverse routes across

Europe and sub-Saharan

Africa, which partly accounts

for their high mortality rate

and declining numbers across

Germany.

Parallels can be drawn here

with the transitory patterns

of economic and political

migrants, there have been stories

in the press revealing how 

people have devised inventive

and sophisticated clandestine

strategies for travelling into

Europe. The film’s narrator

considers the consequences

of transnational capitalism,

the topography of displacement

and the conditions of

risk.

These twinned migratory subjects

offer a speculative reorientation

on a shared ritual

and ontography. Both subjects

divulge a less visible feature;

their patterns (of transit) and 

gestures (in action) reveal an

ingenious process of negotiating

obstacles.

The film features a sequence

of close-up details of satellite

images, showing red lines

that plot the flight paths of

migrating cuckoos, drawn

across Europe, Germany and

Brandenburg. These images

are juxtaposed with diagrams,

infographics and illustrations

that reflect the more economic

and political nature of the narrated

text. This narrative voice 

speaks about the rituals of

objects; the narrator speculates

on a parallel nature of

these two migratory species,

considering what they might

have in common.

1 NABU (German conservation organisation)

has placed the cuckoo on its

endangered list.

2 British Trust for Ornithology research

used satellite-tracking technology.