Alex Last Art Tasmania
Ode to a Wompoo Fruit Dove
Single-channel HD Video (2017)




Extended text:
Little is known about the Wompoo Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus magnificus) A literature review turns up a taxonomic revision¹, but no detailed studies on the rich lifeworld of the species itself. What are its sensory and perceptual sensitivites, its problem solving capacities or reproductive proclivities? How does it communicate, or navigate? The Ptilinopus (fruit dove) genus extends back 30 million years to the Early Oligocene; deep current of evolution pulsing with manifold and esoteric fluctuations; cascading metamorphosis across geologic time.

The Wompoo, along with many other species, evades objective capture. What remains is a caricature of data and amateur videography. A few decades of rapid deforestation² threatens to vanquish a 30 million year old form of life. Meanwhile, society waits in awe for the discovery of interplanetary organisms, yet it remains ambivalent to the unique and unexplored subjectivity of the intra-terrestrial. The Wompoo is a living alien, cooing secretly in folds of emerald fern, perhaps watching the purple-jade memory of its kin unfold in quantum trails³, encoding messages in the movement of its wings⁴, and seeding palm-fruit trees in future sanctuaries as it struggles to sustain its tropic niche against ongoing human expansion.

  1. A. Cibois et al. (2014) Phylogeny and biogeography of the fruit doves. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
  2. Australia: State of the Environment (2016) Regional and landscape-scale pressures: Land clearing
  3. Hiscock HG, et al. (2016) The quantum needle of the avian magnetic compass.
  4. Murray, Trevor G. et al. (2017) Sounds of modified flight feathers reliably signal danger in a pigeon.