On January 2008, I collaborated with the Yamshina Institute for Ornithology (a regional expert in bird band- ing) in an attempt to document this phenomenon during an artist residency. A group of a few thousand migratory birds were banded by the Institute over the course of two months. Besides banding the birds with a metal band on their legs, I included a small pin-hole camera near each band. Inside each camera was a very small sheet of positive photographic paper of extremely low sensitivity. The pin-hole exposed the image di- rectly onto the paper, and allows for a positive image to be formed as long as there was light going through the pin-hole. The thousands of little pin-hole cameras were made with the help of a group of local school children.
On June 2010, 50 of the birds were dead found in the Arctic Circle. 30 of the birds still had their cameras in- tact and 12 of the cameras actually created an image of the bird's rather confused migratory journey to the Arctic.
What I found intriguing when I enlarged the images was that much of the bird's journey might have been captured (recorded while it was flying, never long enough to register a still) in all the blurry colourful hues we see in the images. Parts of the mountainous Arctic landscape, however, registered quite clearly. The only way that these landscapes could have formed on the paper was when the bird came to a final rest and laid on the ice, because that would give the pin-hole camera enough time to form a clear and still image - which is probably the last view of the bird before it died.
Zhao Renhui, October 2010, Yamanshina.