YEAR +

2016

LOCATION +

Montpellier | France

CLIENT +

La Panacée link

EXHIBITION +

Terminal P
Curated by Franck Bauchard

 

MIGROPOLI
Enquiring human infrastructures and
their consequences over the environment

Airports carry out an important symbolic role in terms of control and “safety”, they function as border and flow regulation, especially for those citizens who don’t have the freedom of movement. The aesthetics derived from these over-controlled environments outlines a global standard that communicates little about either human or natural diversity flows that occur within and outside its walls.

The limited accessibility grants to airports’ spaces a particular status: they are the institutions to filter the global flows. Flows of people but also animals, plants and bacteria: for any of these categories there are limitations and risks management. At the same time airports create a specific human and non-human biome: the fence of the airport keeps wildlife protected from human impact often creating involuntary protected areas. 

As some humans are not allowed to come in or fly out, some forms of life are more welcome than others, the “collateral” oasis of security around airports clashes with natural phenomena such as birds migrations. Bird collisions are a minor risk but nevertheless they necessitate human control; at the airport of Montpellier we conducted a field research about this conflict and its implications: birds’ migrations communicate a problematic relation that acknowledge the involuntary role of airports in preserving habitats protected by human presence. 

With a video, a map and an installation we express part of the complexity of the social reality related to our relation with infrastructures, non-human beings and migrants.

 
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MIGROPOLI
EFFAROUCHEMENT
THE ACT OF FRIGHTENING

TO SCARE OFF
I. If you scare off or scare away a person or animal, you frighten them so that they go away
II. If you scare someone off, you accidentally make them unwilling to become involved with you


Effarouchement
means to scare off, with this word are indicated all the techniques used by airports to keep birds away from the airstrips. A single bird can represent serious risks for the aircraft during taking off and landing procedures, therefore a threat to passengers’ security. Any natural variable, from the height of the grass to the management of water, is designed in accordance with the function of keeping animals away. Because of the attention paid to bird control, we drew a parallel between this kind of construction and the one which is in place to keep migrants away. 

Today, ecological conscience seems to be greater than empathy for humans. In fact we could consider all the mediatized dramatic event about migrants as human scaring technique: messages of danger both for who wants to come to Europe and for the ones which are afraid of immigration; the buffering zones needs therefore to be made inhospitable to anyone with all the possible means.

In our research, the emblematic struggle related to the airport's anthropological role of security is bird control and hazard prevention. Birds’ migrations are even more problematic, especially for their unpredictability. On one hand, the involuntary role of airports have, preserving habitats protected by human presence and on the other, the inevitable “collision” between behaviours of planes and birds that forces airports to take measures to control birds.

This is made possible by the continuous presence of the animal hazard prevention service which guarantees the safety of aircraft on the main runway.

Cover 3.jpg

Effarouchement is the term with which are defined all the different techniques of frightening birds; we found quite striking the amount of control that is needed for scaring birds. There are several methods to make the platform less attractive to birds: optical systems such as laser torches; acoustic devices, fixed and mobile, which reproduce the call of distress of selected birds or predators' cry; pyrotechnic devices like firing shell crackers, sound detonators, and whistlers, at long range. The ultimate mean used to scare birds is their "removal": according to strict protocols, it is possible to kill  the “threat” with a rifle.

CATEGORY +

ART

TAG +

Anthropocene
Migration
Infrastructures

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SUD-NORD-SUD
HUMAN & NON-HUMAN ROUTES

Two of the most alarming effects of human activities on landscapes are the fragmentation and destruction of habitats. Undisturbed habitats are rare this phenomenon can drive to the extinction of global fauna and flora.

The airport of Montpellier plays an important role for preserving the natural environment since it is located on the edges of the Étang de l’Or, a humid zone classified as Special Protection areas and Site of Community Interest. The coastal lagoon hosts many protected species of plants and animals, and it is the chosen spot for many migratory birds crossing the Mediterranean to Africa and Middle East.

We created a map of the migratory routes of both human and birds, a parallel to compare their condition as living beings: protected by laws or not, scared off in different ways, and migrating in search for survival. We draw the map using a fishnet used by the fishermen living on the Étang de l’Or, the routes we chose are for birds the ones of those birds which belongs to protected species and are observed in the Étang de l’Or area, for humans we decide to represent the journey of those who are running from countries affected by war. Human migrations and asylum seekers are following the same migratory routes of birds from Africa and the Middle East. Birds and human struggles are similar, the journey put their life in danger.

One of the pieces we create for the exhibition Terminal P is a map of the migratory routes of both human and birds. The net is a symbolic connection between this place and the obstacles that migratory beings face during their movements. Some species of birds risk the extinction because they are hunt in Egypt with huge nets placed on their routes; human of certain nationalities are stopped by kilometres of barriers.

The routes we chose are for birds the ones of those birds which belongs to protected species and are observed in the Étang de l'Or area: Eurasian Curlew, Pink Flamingo, Little Tern, Purple Heron, Gull-Billed Tern, European Roller, Black-Crowned Night Heron, White Stork, Little Bustard. For humans we decide to represent the journey of those who are running from countries afflicted by war: Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Niger, Syria, and Afghanistan.

 
 
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THE CITY GATE
A DOOR FOR
CONTEMPORARY METROPOLIS

“Where does the city without gates begin? [...] As the last gateway to the State, the airport came to resemble the fort, port or railway station of earlier days. The airports were turned into theatres of necessary regulation of exchange and communication.” [1]

As outpost of the Technosphere [2], airports are a monument to the free movement of goods and people, but they are also the filter and the border control that limits those same flows of exchange. Depending on where you are born on the planet, they could be a bridge to faraway places or a wall of limitation and instrument of colonisation. In our Field investigation in the surrounding of the airport we documented and collected the material culture which is “inversely produced” by the city: even though most of the surrounding are protected by environmental controls this cut out space is considered as dump by many.

We materialised the gates of contemporary city with the material produced by such an environment: in the dimensions of a security gate, we crafted many birdhouses from the trash collected around the airport, not only because those very material are already housing wildlife, but also to show to what extent humans influence areas which are thought to be protected. Even in the depth of the lake lake heavy metals reacts limestone and salt to constitute a material which is stratifying on marine surfaces and boats, this was used for the base of the gate.

"In all likelihood, the essence of what we insist on calling urbanism is composed/decomposed by these transfer, transit and transmission systems, these transport and transmigration networks whose immaterial configuration reiterates the cadastral organization and the building of monuments." [3]

NOTES
[1]
Paul Virilio, The Overexposed City, from L'Espace Critique, Christian Bourgeois, Paris, 1984
[2] The term Technosphere describes the mobilisation and hybridization of energy, material, and environments into a planetary system on par with other spheres such as the atmosphere or biosphere; this term encompasses the enclosure of human populations, forests, cities, seas, and other traditionally nontechnical entities within systems of technical management and productivity
[3] Paul Virilio, The Overexposed City, from L'Espace Critique, Christian Bourgeois, Paris, 1984

 
 
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FIELD RESEARCH
ÉTANG DE L'OR

The airport of Montpellier plays an important role for preserving the natural environment since it is located on the edges of the Étang de l’Or, a humid zone classified as Special Protection areas and Site of Community Interest. The coastal lagoon hosts many protected species of plants and animals, and it is the chosen spot for many migratory birds crossing the Mediterranean to Africa and Middle East.

CONTACT US +

For more information, please write an email to hallomarginal@gmail.com