• Bay&Bay
    Die Welle, Bahnhof Bern, Schweiz
    station of Berne, Switzerland
    2007
    Oracal on glass, digital photograph, c-print
    Besitz der Künstler / Collection of the artists
    © windowzoo.com

Windowzoo.com: Can't fake freedom

“windowzoo.com” is an internationally active and networked multimedia art project. Since 2005, birds have been “freed” by the Swiss initiators Barbara and Till Bay and their fellow campaigners: The adhesive film silhouettes of exotic birds such as flamingos, hummingbirds and pelicans installed undetected on transparent surfaces, for example on panes of glass at railway stations or public buildings, do not seem immediately obvious at first, but they then irritate the viewer. The difference to the conventional motifs of swallows or birds of prey otherwise attached to winter gardens, shop windows or glass doors suddenly becomes conspicuous. Such stick-on images previously served to make panes of glass and glass doors visible for approaching birds and are intended to lessen the danger of injury for human and animal alike. For Bay&Bay, conversely, the unusual silhouettes on unexpected places unlock new perceptions and sharpen one’s view for the details of the urban environment.

The project which developed from street art now encompasses over 3,300 installations in almost 570 cities on all five continents. The installations anchored in the context of art in public spaces are documented in terms of time and location by means of photographs which are then published on the project’s website. This digital platform unites the community across the continents and over time and space; artists, photographers and performers find common ground there.

Bay&Bay rely on the graphic outline that can be perceived directly in various cultural circles in our globalized, multimedia-oriented multicultural world. The project’s motto, “Can’t fake freedom” also functions across diverse cultures with the fields of association “bird,” “flying” and “freedom”. The more than 2,000 followers of the project around the world prove the universality of “windowzoo.com.” The enlargement of the repertory of silhouettes initiated by the participants to include helicopters and airplanes, skeleton forms and human outlines is also intentional and welcomed in the sense of the networked, international community.

In the Cabinet, Barbara and Till Bay are showing 145 photographs taken all over the world between 2006 and 2009. The diversity and dissemination of the project is thus illustrated on the one hand, but the photographs also unfold their own poetic impact on the other, stimulating the viewer. Viewing the photographed silhouettes also brings about new contexts and perceptions are questioned. Well-known buildings and public squares appear altered through the addition of the silhouettes. The form of an over-sized flamingo encounters in the photograph Alexander Calder’s red steel sculpture “Flamingo” on the square in front of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Loop Station United States Post Office in Chicago. Political connotations are by all means intended; one thinks for example of the outline of a fighter plane that seems to be crashing into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York or of the free flying hummingbird at the Beijing construction site of the Chinese National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron which has been nicknamed “the bird’s nest.” Otherwise hardly noticed details receive new meaning in the enlarged image. In the photograph of Ieoh Ming Pei’s glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris, for example, the grid structure appears like a cage over the small bird sitting on the railing that even casts a shadow or Frei Otto’s polygonal spire construction for the Olympic Stadium in Munich turns into a net over the silhouette of a bird of prey. The viewer must often look very carefully to realize the real contexts between the adhesive silhouette, transparent pane and background. New contexts, new proportions and new perspectives come to pass in the photographs.

After nightfall, an interactive projection takes place on the museum’s exterior that can be influenced in two ways. A flock of birds and telephone poles are projected onto the façade. Software at the site captures throwing movements executed by passers-by with a motion detector and passes them on to the representation with bird motifs. The visitor can in this way feed the birds by throwing them a virtual handful of seeds. At regular intervals, however, the birds fly off and land in the form of words on the wires between the telephone poles. Texts from all over the world can be entered via computer or Internet-capable mobile phones which will then be projected in this way.

The exhibition in the museum franz gertsch thus not only puts the artistic photographs on show which were produced in conjunction with the project and translate the artworks in the public spaces into a two-dimensional media, but also develops the project further as regards the Internet. Human beings also interact with their environment here and the results are disseminated around the world via the modern medium of the World Wide Web. For the duration of the exhibition, the façade of the museum franz gertsch is a matter of international interest and the occurrences here will be streamed live on the Internet.

Bay&Bay have regularly participated in group shows since 2007. This is their first solo exhibition. The exhibition in the museum franz gertsch comprises a momentary snapshot of the present state of the “windowzoo.com” project’s development.

The projections on the façade of the museum franz gertsch can also be followed as a live steam on the project’s website and visitors to the site can also enter their own texts there:

www.windowzoo.com (computer)

m.windowzoo.com (mobile telephony)

see the project's website: www.windowzoo.com

Windowzoo.com: Can't fake freedom