Moving Image Award

Love Birds, Night Birds, Devil-Birds

Cassie McQuater

Original music by Kelly Moran.

“Love Birds, Night Birds, Devil-Birds” is a nonlinear fairy tale taking the form of an interactive video game installation, and begins as a re-imagining of the surrealist story “The Debutante” by artist Leonora Carrington, in which a young woman exchanges places with a hyena, masked in a suit of human skin, for her societal debut. Extravagant dresses made of anatomical parts, glass, and pink light swirl in pastoral landscapes populated by undulating fluorescent flowers, strange monsters and deconstructed birds, who paint the sky. As part of an on-going series exploring the mythological idea of women’s bodies as dangerous and poisonous gardens, “Love Birds,” leans on an idea set forth in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” in which a young woman develops an inexplicable immunity to the poisonous plants which her father, a medical researcher, cultivates in medieval Padua. Eventually, she, herself, mimicking the property of the plants, becomes poisonous to others. In modern pop culture, this narrative is reflected heavily in the character of Batman’s Poison Ivy. Taking the form of an interactive video game as well as a multi-channel video installation, “Love Birds,” explores this trope through nonlinear game play, subversive use of and exploding of digital 3D models, and code, while examining the various myths, stories and legends of gardens which double as terrifyingly beautiful prisons for their inhabitants.