“If birds left tracks in the sky, what would they look like?”. That was the simple question that planted the seed of this complex work that combines nature, art, and technology. Since then, Xavi Bou has been looking for the answer, perfecting his technique and seeking out new species and behaviours, while gaining recognition though international publications and exhibitions.
This book represents a selection of images from the last seven years of Xavi’s “Ornithographies” project. The main part of the book showcases 65 horizontal images, each professionally reproduced over a double page spread. And to better reproduce the vertical images, within the same book there is also a section bound to open vertically, with eight vertical double-page images and five unique triptychs. An index provides details on the species and location of each photo, as well as many interesting explanations to help better understand and appreciate the images.
From first glance, it is clear that we are not dealing with classic bird portraits. In fact, every figure merges to shape the image of something else: movement. We could say that the result is a graphical representation of the flight of these animals. Xavi’s special technique takes slow-motion recordings with a digital film camera and overlaps them in post-production to masterfully create an extraordinary image revealing the hidden beauty of bird flight. The effect is dreamlike images, sometimes framed by extraterrestrial landscapes and other times floating in an ethereal space of unreal colours, in which unrecognizable but organic strokes tear the picture like a furious swarm or a lonely brushstroke.
The aesthetic impact of these images is immediate, but if we know what species and what circumstances have generated such a composition, we also gain another layer of understanding of these natural processes that were previously invisible to us. So, while the premise is that the sky is a canvas and the birds the brushes that paint on it, we must also recognize the role of Xavi Bou as curator, as his task is to search out, observe, and select each type of flight and make visible the particular choreography of each species.
Xavi explains that the project started without many pretensions, but that little by little it became his passion and profession. He never could have imagined the repercussions it would have, nor the interest it continues to arouse. He hopes that his combined love for nature and art will spark that love in others.
Find out more about the project and its many aspects on Xavi Bou’s website.