Background Image:© Francesca Todde / Contrasto from the series A Sensitive Education
Background Image:© Francesca Todde / Contrasto from the series A Sensitive Education

Rorhof: The Pigeon Photographer, 2018

The Pigeon Photographer is a collection that examines the development of aerial photography in early 20th century Germany through the figure of Julius Neubronner and his pigeons. The son of an apothecary, Neubronner developed a camera that was attached to the neck of a homing pigeon transporting medicines. The camera would automatically take pictures of the earth below while the pigeon was delivering the parcel. Patented by Neubronner in 1908, the invention earned him many accolades and its use rapidly spread to the military and surveillance domains.

The Rorhof cooperative has compiled the material produced by Julius Neubronner’s pigeon cameras, creating an astounding view into a world seen from the perspective of pigeons. The work offers viewers photographs shot not by a human but by Neubronner’s pigeons. As carriers of an automatic camera, the pigeons have become their own kind of world-viewer. In these photographs, the camera is not a human privilege; its status as an anthropocentric portrayer of the world has changed, with the device and the bird selecting for us what we can and cannot see.

The Pigeon Photographer was originally published as a book (edited by Nicolò Degiorgis and Audrey Solomon).

Rorhof (Bolzano, Italy) is a cooperative that works with publications, exhibitions, workshops, residencies and curating. Formed by Nicolò Degiorgis, Michele Degiorgis, Allegra Baggio Corradi and Federica Di Giovanni, the cooperative is based at a former vineyard and focuses on solidarity and sustainability. Rorhof operates a publishing house, gallery space and library under the same roof.