John Kleinschmidt
These Birds Are Forever

Film Installation on the Beinecke Library at Yale University
New Haven, CT

With Andy Sternad

This short film was projected on the Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscript Library during the projection installation LUX: Ideas Through Light which paired designers and researchers together. The resulting collaborations presented cutting-edge research at Yale to a new audience.
The bird collection in the Yale Peabody Museum’s Division of Vertebrate Zoology is a stunning archive. Brilliant color is everywhere, belying the room’s sterility. Within each drawer lies an endless landscape inviting exploration.  A mystifying patch of iridescent blue, a vivid pink stripe, or a fragment of a single feather can each be arenas for playing out the forces of beauty, ornament, and desire. 
To visit this collection is to slip in and out of time. You have to wash your hands afterward to rid traces of arsenic from the collection’s oldest specimens. You can pick up a bird that has been extinct for 100 years – if you can stand to meet its unblinking gaze from cotton-stuffed eyes. These birds are forever.

Special thanks to Dr. Richard Prum, William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology, Ecology and Evolutionary and Biology, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.