Pigeons: they are a fixture of our cities, seemingly always underfoot, sometimes swooping in close enough to graze our hair as we sit on a park bench trying to enjoy our lunch. In New York City we generally consider them nasty - "rats with wings" they are frequently called. Nobody knows how many there are in any particular city, but whatever the number, it is generally considered to be too many.
And their color: the color of the smog-stained buildings and streets in which they live, reminding us of the drabber elements around us.
And yet they are an integral part of city ecosystems everywhere. And cities everywhere are being rethought increasingly - by the day it seems - as those of us who love technology and also love cities find ways to make them better, more sustainable, more livable, more fun.
So why not rethink the pigeon, too?
This is exactly what Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck did for the Venice Biennale.
Charrière and von Bismarck took ordinary city pigeons (ferral pigeons is the proper term - they were once upon a time raised domestically for food), caught them, spray painted them beautiful colors, then released them back into the city. (They did this with a very interesting sounding machine, but that's a different blog post). This was undertaken as part of their art project "some pigeons are more equal than others".
• Pigeons remade as objects of beauty and wonder.
• People interacting with their urban environment in new and refreshing ways.
• A city turned on its head, with subjects formerly at the bottom of the value chain suddenly making an appearance near the top, as celebrities.
It's a great rethink of cities and how we interact with them.
How much else around us could benefit from a rethink like this? Quite a bit, is my guess.