Gezi Park, the world recently learned its name. Civil disobedience and choreographed protest remained in international news, with a mini-break in the form of Ramazan. The ultimate results of the push and tug of street protests aren’t clear at the time of this writing, but something that was made clear almost immediately was a very simple fact : There is very little green space in Istanbul. Gezi’s smallest occupiers, birds, native to Istanbul, are in a most fragile position after decades of urban development. There is little alternative left to them in a society that tears down it’s green spaces.
In an effort to help these smaller citizens of the Taksim area, and as a form of activism through psychogeograpy, visual artist Cagla Baybura, with support from Alpay Kasal (link) have designed 3D printed birdhouses to be hung in public spaces. The intention is commentary through art and technology that also has an ongoing utilitarian function. Cagla and Alpay will provide birdhouses in different designs for anyone interested in lending their help to hang them. Inset is a photo taken in the 1960′s at a time when the Turkish government built and installed enormous birdhouses in parks and throughout the city of Istanbul. We aim to point a finger at this very basic difference in civil/gov’t attitude. Please see part 2 of this post- the Kusevi, throughout the Ottoman Empire, since it’s earliest days, there has been a high level of care taken for our birds. Much of my research is outlined within that post.
The technical story includes the method of design and fabrication and the use of crowdsourcing. The 3D printed bird houses all start out in software as 3d models. Some birdhouses are designed as open source content created by the public, crowdsourced designs becoming gifts to the bird’s from people all over the world in this way. Several of the birdhouses have been designed by Alpay with a specific local Turk-centric design focus (a hamam, Galata tower, and some penguin shapes for example). All designs are 3d printed in a biodegradable plastic made from potato starch called PLA, the objects are expected to remain in a usable form for about 40 years. Remotely designed, and locally printed, global activism is meeting local desktop manufacturing in the best way.
What is psychogeography?
Taken from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychogeography : Psychogeography ‘emphasizes playfulness and “drifting” around urban environments.”… “Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” Another definition is “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities… just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.”‘
The Gezi protests quickly turned into something much larger than the park demolition which sparked them. Some forms of protest have a more direct message than others. In this case, a living tech-based street art installation which can take on a life of its own for quite some time, as a passive part of people’s lives. The installation of >40 birdhouses will begin December of 2013 and ongoing through spring of 2014.
Finally, here are some links that show how birdsong is helpful to a quality of life, and a useful marker of urbanization. A study from the University of Surrey. “Bird sounds and their contributions to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery” from the Journal of Environmental Psychology. A Facebook page on the subject, with related links.
Link: The Kusevi. It is part 2 to this post, showing the results of research which led to this project.
We modified the Gezi Penguin design by Khano, found on Thingiverse, for use as a birdhouse.