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The Language of the Birds - North Beach, San Francisco

Yesterday, I went to Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn's unveiling ceremony of The Language of the Birds public art installation at Columbus & Broadway in the literary mecca of North Beach. The installation really is remarkable, and I highly recommend checking it out.



"Language of the Birds is a flock of twenty-three sculpted illuminated books, which appear to have just taken flight from the plaza like pigeons scared up by a passer by. Appearing to be in motion, the books have flown open creating various wing positions with the pages and bindings. The entire artwork appears to be in motion with each book holding its position as a bird does in a flock.


Each unique book is fabricated in frosted white translucent polycarbonate. These sculptural elements will be suspended from a geometric web of stainless steel aircraft cables. At night LED lights incrusted in the books will create visual patterns, at different times one might see the flock subtly pulsing or a spectacular zoetropic effect. The dynamic lights of Language of the Birds play in the night sky with the other luminous signs of the area.


Goggin and Keehn teamed up with scientist David Shearer and Lawrence Ferlengetti’s City lights bookstore to power Language of the Birds with solar panels mounted on top of the iconic bookstore.


Passing under the flock, pedestrians will notice words and phrases embedded in the plaza floor that appear to have fallen from the pages. On closer inspection the fallen words are in English, Italian and Chinese and were selected from the neighborhood’s rich literary history. Keehn headed up working with North Beach and Chinatown residents, community organizations, and business owners to select the books. Ranging from the Beats, to SF Renaissance poets and Chinese writers, over 90 authors are represented including Armistead Maupin, Gary Snyder,William T. Vollman, and Jade Snow Wong."


More info here

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Taken on November 23, 2008