Avian Technics investigates the tensions between humans, birds and technology. Birds, in particular, have been playing an increasingly important role in our understanding of the planet. There are networks that monitor the movement of hundreds of thousands of birds around the world. This type of tracking technology produces an enormous amount of data. Jancovic proposes that we can also interpret this data as stories: Hidden in the spatial information are the narratives of individual living beings navigating an increasingly inscrutable environment. These are stories of life and extinction, but also of resilience.
Avian Technics is a work that was made specifically for the 2021 Festival of Political Photography – Bird’s-Eye View from Jancovic’s essay Animal Technics: On Borders and the Labour of Knowing the World. The essay reveals how animals perform new forms of labour and produce knowledge in the service of humans. The essay is available at pvf.fi in Finnish and English. Animal Technics: On Borders and the Labour of Knowing the World was commissioned by Fotomuseum Winterthur for SITUATIONS/Posthuman, 2018.
Marek Jancovic (b. 1987) is a media scholar whose primary interest lies with the mutual interactions and interferences between media technology and society. He is fascinated by global bird tracking systems because they ultimately put into perspective not just the animals they follow but also make visible our own place in the world. Jancovic hopes that the artwork will encourage visitors to consider the work that birds do in establishing new relations of visibility – a visibility that is necessary for our own survival. Jancovic is from Slovakia and works as Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.