Sayler/Morris,Passenger pigeons in the Cornell Ornithology Lab, 2014. Detail of Eclipse

Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris

North Adams, Massachusetts


In the 18th century, the world’s most common bird may have been Ectopistes migratorius, the passenger pigeon. Estimated at three to five billion in number, these birds made up a quarter of the total avian population in North America when the first European settlers arrived. Faced with a steep decline in their habitat as the countryside was colonized, and then hunted in mass culls to fill the appetite of a growing country, the last passenger pigeon died in captivity in 1914. By the mid-20th century, the bird had come to symbolize the extremes of environmental depredation. To mark the centennial of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris collaborated with writer Elizabeth Kolbert to create Eclipse. Eclipse—titled after Audubon’s comparison between the darkened skies caused by a flock passing overhead and a solar eclipse—projects a video loop of seemingly innumerable pigeons in reverse-negative silhouette. …see the entire review in the print version of September’s Sculpture magazine.