Too often to a fault, critically endangered species are portrayed under the frame of utter frailty, which evokes in humanity a grave responsibility to protect them. In this video, however, one such bird species, Bali Myna, spots an easy outlet for its aggression, a cruelty that may not be an antonym, but rather, an extension of curiosity.

Through its compulsive repetition of violence that fulfills no obvious purpose, the bird displays not necessarily a maladaptation, but a unique form of adaptation to its current habitat: a confined space with limited diversity of stimulation. Neither domesticated nor wild at the site, the bird must learn to simultaneously familiarize and defamiliarize itself with its immediate environment. Thus the pathological behavior seems to gift the bird with not only a sense of control but also a sensible rhythm of mastery over its already fixed surrounding that leaves little room for participatory contribution.

If there is pleasure in repetition, as according to a famous Freudian proposition, what kind of lack does this excess brutality fulfill? Could this bird be in search of its forgotten past in the wild? The video proposes a reconceptualization of “the wild” as an orientation instead of a reserved world apart from civilization.

© 2020 by KAHN J. RYU