Title: Ornithology I
Artist: Juan Fontanive
Juan Fontanive is a contemporary artist based in New York City. He describes himself as an artist who makes “films without using light” (his Vimeo about). One of the ways that he makes these films is through mechanicalized flipbooks. Ornithology I is just one of many of Fontanive’s mechanical flipbooks.
He constructed the work by collaging 18th and 19th-century history illustrations and then double-sided screenprinting them onto pieces of bristol paper. He then takes those 72 pieces of paper and places them into the motorized stainless steel boxes that he makes. Fontanive brings flipbooks into the modern age by mechanicalizing them so that they continue to play by themselves creating a looping short film.
Fontanive started the series back in 2004 while he was at the Royal College of Art in London. He started by using clock parts to create a machine that could create an animation, that inspired the more uniform stainless steel boxes that he currently uses in his work and the movement of the paper inspired him to experiment with birds as his subject. Over 11 years of being influenced by his own work and the materials that he collected to collage, Fontanive came to create Ornithology I.
The only way that I think Ornithology I could be improved is through manipulating the boxes that the flipbooks are within. The images themselves have a handmade feel, being that they are screen-printed collages, but the clean silver boxes take away from that feeling a little bit. I think that if the boxes had a texture to them, maybe a hammered metal texture, or if they were made from collaged metal the piece as a whole would feel slightly more cohesive.