Devil Bird
Ondine Viñao
36 Pages
289 mm x 380 mm
Published in August 2017
Edition of 150

In the summer of 1977, humans sent the twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft to observe the stars. In 2012, the first of those two probes, Voyager 1, crossed beyond the bubble around our sun and into interstellar space. These are our first emissaries to the cosmos, and each carry a disc known as the Golden Record: 87.5 minutes of music, 116 pictures, and a handful of other ephemera selected to function as a time capsule, communicating a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record - a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk - containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.

27 musical clips were chosen to capture the totality of our world's musical heritage; included are a few minutes from the first movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, a Peruvian wedding song, and Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. Also included are two Aborigine songs, from islands off the northern coast of Australia; “Morning Star” and an incorrectly titled “Devil Bird.” Recent discovery exposed that while the first 23 seconds of the recording are in fact “Morning Star”, the song that comes on next is not “Devil Bird” - a song representing fate’s dangers - but a different piece altogether.

Devil Bird is the first book of photographs by American artist Ondine Viñao. Taken from the artist’s archive of 35mm images shot during her time in Louisiana and Mississippi, Devil Bird places Viñao’s work alongside photographs from NASA’s 1977 Golden Record. In her photographs, we find moments experienced in solitude, instances of exclusion from feelings of belonging or intimacy, where the body is often implied, but not directly manifested. The images selected for this project follow a narrative the artist has formulated taking us from “above” to “below”: Devil Bird opens with an image of a retired rocket ship at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, and concludes with a depiction of the human fetus from the Golden Record. In between, we travel from Stennis to the swamplands, from a plantation to the bottom floor of a research vessel. At the same time, we are shown elements of our solar system, wildlife and birth through images from “Scenes from Earth” included in the Golden Record. Lyrics from various Chuck Berry hits are weaved throughout (Johnny B. Goode is written in its entirety, the only American rock song to be included in the Golden Record’s “Music from Earth” section), blurring the artist’s physical trip to Louisiana with Berry’s.

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