Hirondelusia: A Creative Turn toward Species at Risk

Jennifer Clary-Lemon, University of Waterloo; Marcel O'Gorman, University of Waterloo; Christopher Rogers; University of Waterloo

Toronto 2021: Multispecies

The common barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) population in Canada has declined over 50% in the past 25 years, leading to its status as a species at risk. Environmental agencies have sought to mitigate this problem through the construction of small nesting kiosks designed to replace swallow habitats lost due to barn demolition. The swallows are known to refuse the structures, and they tend to similarly confuse humans, as they are often out-of-reach by the side of busy highways. This making and doing session showcases the critical design and making of a barn swallow structure built for human interaction. As a public arts-based research creation project, Hirondelusia highlights the modular plans, materials, and sounds involved in reconceiving the barn swallow mitigation structure as an extinction object-to-think-with. The making and doing session will orient participants to the structures while discussing the particular Hirondelusia construction, made of refurbished barnboard, equipped with a sensor-based sound system, and decorated with imagery of barn swallows culled from cultural history (painting, poetry, myth). We will briefly showcase the photo results of the structure’s public outreach along ONRoute service stations on Ontario’s Highway 401, where it served to inform travelers about the loss of a common species.

Published: 01/30/2023