The Curious Case of Mr B
and his Bird Parts


 




Greenland Falcon

Greenland Falcon, Natural History Museum. Dublin.
2011
C print and silicon, 40 x 60 in (100 x 150cm). Edition of 2. Collection of the artist & Morris Detroit


Stacked high above specimen cabinets in a storage area of the Natural History Museum in Dublin are dozens of dusty black cases arranged in ordered rows like cemetery stone tablets. Inside are hundreds of bird wings, feathers, claws, envelopes, invoices, letters and assorted bird body parts, all neatly grouped and labeled. Their contents, at once timeless yet utterly of their time and place, have remained largely untouched since they were bequeathed to the National Museum of Ireland in 1916. These are the archives, specimen collections and life’s project of R.M. Barrington (1849 - 1915), farmer, naturalist, obsessive collector, innovatory quantifier and author of The Migration of Birds as Observed at Irish Lighthouses and Lightships, in 1900.

R.M. Barrington was obsessed with the migratory patterns of birds around the Irish coastline, still very much an inexact science in the late 19th century. His quest for hard evidence and fact, beyond random observation and untrained account, fueled the remarkable project he began in 1881, a pioneering, systematic and idiosyncratic study that continued for over twenty years.

Based on primary research from his archives, The Curious Case of Mr B documents and re-imagines Barrington’s passion, his vast archive of birds, letters and descriptive comments, allied to the re-creation of a sequence of migratory flight paths - sightlines, scapes and lunar phases - directly preceding the deaths of thousands of birds at lightnouses around the Irish coastline. The project is realised in two parts; The Curious Case of Mr B and Killed Striking

Using photography and sound in a process of inquiry and collaboration, the work aims to re-interpret the Barrington archive, re-thinking perspectives behind empirical science, museum narrative and conventions of display. The project is one of five archive studies resulting from an artist-in-residency exhibition and book project with the Natural History Museum of Ireland (National Museum of Ireland).


35 Chromogenic prints & light boxes. 36x26in (92x66cm) & 72x48in (183x122cm)
Archival canvas map and LED light work. 180x120cm
Sound work. The Bird Room.
6.07 minutes
Pigment print on fabric frame. 20 x 12cm

Image dimensions are variable for gallery spaces
Touring 2011 - 2013


Bird Cases Bird Boxes

Barrington Bird Case Room 1 & 2, Beggars Bush. Dublin.
2011
C print and silicon, 40 x 60 in (100 x 150cm). Editions of 1. Collection of the artist

Barrington Bird

Saltee Rissa, Beggars Bush. Dublin.
2011
C print and silicon, 40 x 60 in (100 x 150cm). Edition of 1. Collection of the artist
 
Bird Grid

Barrington Bird Cases, Natural History Museum. Dublin.
2011
C prints and silicon in grid, 24 x 20 in (61 x 51 cm) each. Edition of 2. Collection of the artist
 
Wren Black Cap

Barrington Bird Cases (detail), Natural History Museum. Dublin. 2011
C prints and silicon, 24 x 20 in (61 x 51 cm) each. Edition of 2. Collection of the artist

Barrington Bird Case

Barrington Bird Case, Beggars Bush. Dublin.
2011
C print and silicon, 40 x 60 in (100 x 150cm). Edition of 1. Collection of the artist


R.M Barrington

R.M. Barrington & Shag, Saltee Islands.
1910. Courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland.
Photographer unknown, possible self-portrait. Glass plate slide 8 x 8 cm.



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