Gathered Coherence

In their fury, the starlings mounted the sky and then dispersed back into the tops of trees and stalks and overhead lines. Perhaps it was merely human presence that startled into action the growing cluster of wings. Or maybe they were on a timed schedule and couldn’t wait any longer to stretch their wings. Regardless of the reason, I stood under their show for its duration and listened to the thrum of their wings all beating in sync as they swooped and danced and shifted and backtracked and segued into a new sequence of random movements. The guidelines that govern their flight pattern are simple and obviously effective for the flock. But the success of their choreography depends on each bird’s agreement to avoid collision with its neighbors, desire to stay in proximity to the group, and willingly move in the same direction.

In Gathered Coherence, I’m looking at how the starlings mirror our human interactions: the ways that we gather, connect and swirl around each other - sometimes less successfully than the starling, but no less of a dance. I’m seeing ways in which we collect ourselves, organize into clusters and then disperse once again. I’m examining the connective tissue of this human movement: our tendency toward  coherence, wanting to go the same direction, carry the conversation along, and choose to be gathered into community. I’m emphasizing the synchrony of our cohesive congregating and the contrasting disparity of that unity falling apart. The same rules that intrinsically govern a flock of starlings might not be far from the patterns found in our own gatherings, as long as the individuals remain unified.

The use of ropes and chairs stand in place of the individuals that could occupy such spaces and resulting connectivity. They represent the grouping that happens both synthetically, with an outside force netting us together, and naturally, when we are drawn to certain persons. The nets idealize that our interconnectivity is a constantly adjusting and transitioning negotiation. The ebb and flow results in a fluid movement of our proximity to others. As the viewers move in and around the drawings, their actions mirror the changing forms of the ropes in motion. The purpose behind the chair installation is to physically play out the act of gathering and find the moments of separation or cohesion.  I collected a chair from local contacts according to a specific set of parameters. This group, while not knowing each other’s identities, has participated in an act similar to the starlings as they all responded to the invitation to gather.


This show is dedicated to my aunt Sandi Horton who loved gathering conversation.