Fly By Night: Soundless music heard with the eyes

Friday through Sunday evenings at dusk, a massive flock of pigeons will elegantly twirl, swoop, and glide above the East River, as artist Duke Riley orchestrates a series of performances occurring regularly throughout late spring. At the call of a whistle, thousands of birds will emerge from their home in a grand, converted historic boat docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The pigeons will circle above the river as the sun sets over Manhattan, and small leg bands, historically used to carry messages, will be replaced with tiny LED lights, illuminating the sky in a transcendent union of public art and nature.¹

Fly By Night pays homage to pigeon keeping, both in New York and farther afield. Pigeons have been domesticated for thousands of years and kept by people around the world for their companionship, sport, and service…Fly By Night reflects back on and makes visible this largely forgotten culture. The iconic Brooklyn Navy Yard, once home to the country’s largest naval fleet of pigeon carriers, is the ideal setting for Riley’s Fly By Night–a tribute to the beautiful, diverse and fascinating histories of pigeon flying and New York City.¹

On Thursday evening, the pigeons taught everyone on hand quite a bit about their intelligence, their ability to collaborate with earthbound beings and their beauty when airborne. Despite clouds and chilly temperatures, the birds’ performance was a revelation, a touching unity of human and animal behavior, with sky, water and the city…Most special about watching these pigeons was the silence of their flight. Somewhat like trees, but more mysteriously, they seemed to make visible the wind’s movements. They also created a soundless music heard with the eyes, a Beethovian swirl of melodies and themes. Both sensations brought a sharper appreciation of space and air as active or sheltering forces that we share with all living things.²


Thank you Susan. Excerpts from:

  1. Creative Time
  2. NY Times Review: In ‘Fly by Night,’ Pigeons Light Up the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Comments

  1. What a fabulous idea this was, it’s stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this, David… Thank You so much for sharing. Here’s hoping Sydney catches on. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing idea! Would love to have seen this spectacle!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic! And how many New Yorkers give pigeons their due?😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. what a wonderful idea, it would be amazing to see it firsthand –

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Friends of ours raised pigeons. Their sense of getting home was amazing. The pigeons, not our friends, that is. Yet on a large scale as in the awesome article, the practical comes to mind: who is on the clean up committee?
    -Alan

    Like

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