superstition in the pigeon

  • Slideimage1
Amir Yaziv
Exhibition
We still cannot fully explain the natural mechanism that guides pigeons back home, to a single home – their birthplace. In Superstition in the Pigeon, the bird starts its poetic flight from the edge of Jerusalem and proceeds homeward carrying a tiny camera on its back. This work combines the time-honored tradition of raising postal pigeons with state-of-the-art photographic technology.
The title is borrowed from a 1947 study by psychologist B.F. Skinner, whose research of pigeons led him to develop his behaviorist theories. Skinner found that under certain conditions, pigeons may be persuaded to "believe" in the usefulness of futile actions, causing them to develop “superstitious” behavioral traits.
This behavior is probably motivated by the pigeons' need to survive. Reading this in the context of the human species charges the work with sociopolitical meaning, particularly against the complex backdrop of Jerusalem.
The pigeon's gentle flight will eventually take it home, no matter how far. It crosses over the sky of Jerusalem in a symbolic journey. Superstition in the Pigeon projects a deceptive sense of calm, with the creature's repetitive and consistent movements inducing a kind of meditative state for the observer, while at the same time building up tension and doubt as to whether the bird will find its way home.

(Filmed using a micro camera mounted on the pigeon’s body.)
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