Nick Jordan

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Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan
West Point, 2009
HD video, 23.50 mins.

 

West Point, the hunting of the passenger pigeon, focuses upon John James Audubon’s 1813 description of the astonishing flight, and subsequent slaughter, of wild Passenger Pigeons in the woods by the Ohio River in Kentucky. Extinct since 1913, the once abundant Passenger Pigeon is emblematic of the destructive effect human activity can inflict upon the natural world. Part documentary, part natural history, part road-movie, the film combines Audubon’s eye-witness account of the devastating scenes of the birds’ massacre with contemporary scenes of key locations in Kentucky, where the immense flocks once filled the sky. The town of West Point, at the confluence of the Ohio and Salt rivers, is where Audubon observed a vast flight of Passenger Pigeons, numbering over a billion; the birds continually passing overhead “for three days in succession.”

The film includes a recording by Cartwright & Jordan of Coro, a little known piece by the Bohemian composer Anthony Philip Heinrich, who was an acquaintance of Audubon. Coro describes the overwhelming effect of a huge flock of Passenger Pigeons, to the amazement of a huntsman and a passing traveller.

West Point
forms part of a trilogy of short films (The Audubon Trilogy) which focus upon a range of species, events & locations described by Audubon. Conjoining social, cultural & ecological history, the films reference themes of human exploration and romanticism; the past & present; our relationship to a disappearing wilderness; species extinction, and economic rise and fall.

Commissioned as part of the Alchemy Fellowship, Manchester Museum

read Devin Zuber's text on West Point here