Using bird’s-eye view for empathy
This poster presents an arts-based playful land art intervention into swampland that is undergoing restoration work. It demonstrates, through images, the process of a participatory land art workshop where participants collectively created an image of a wood sandpiper - a bird that is one of the species to benefit from the swamp restoration process.
The bird character was created using chopped and chipped wood material removed from the swamp area. It is necessary to remove trees when restoring a dried swampland and chopping the wood speeds up the process of composting. The aim for the work was also to create a gigantic guidepost sign to invite birds to return and at the end of the workshop, participants plunged into the created bird shape to experience a metamorphosis into a bird, a common theme in mythology.
By being given such a playful task, participants were provided with an alibi to play freely with wood, mud, sticks, and leaves and, in the end, to loll down on the tussocks. Finally, drone images were taken to visualize how big change this temporary collective had created in just a few hours and to give an understanding of how collective actions can rapidly lead to visually significant changes: we could not see the result from the ground level, but the aerial perspective opened up our understanding and emotions.
Participatory land art can open up a portal through which we enter the liminal space of adult playfulness. The images of the end result can be used to generate empathy towards places under restoration works and the process of participation can also ease the emotions of eco-anxiety. When we shift our perspective from swamp details to birds-eye we can see our challenges from a distance but also a confirmation that collaboration can be the key to finding a solution.
Key words participatory art, land art; eco-anxiety, adult playfulness, place attachment