STORY’s David Orr Helps Nick Cave’s “Wood Dove” Take Wing

Hypnotic mandala video promotes a new 242-track compilation, For the Birds: The Birdsong Project, benefiting the Audubon Society.

CHICAGO— Director and visual artist David Orr weaves a single bird’s feather into a shimmering kaleidoscope of incredible complexity and stunning beauty in a video accompanying the new Nick Cave song Wood Dove.

Produced by Cave with longtime collaborator Warren Ellis, the song is one of 242 recordings included in a new compilation titled For the Birds: The Birdsong Project, created by music supervisor Randall Poster and producer Rebecca Reagan to benefit the Audubon Society.

The bird-inspired collection also includes songs by Jarvis Cocker, Yoko Ono, Beck, UNKLE and many others, as well as poetry readings by actors including Tilda Swinton, Robert Pattinson, Jeff Goldbum and Greta Gerwig.

Orr’s mesmerizing video for the Nick Cave and Warren Ellis track will be used to promote the compilation. “David work invites you to feel, to venture into the visual realm beyond the surface into the spiritual realm, and that is very special,” says Poster.  “His embrace is fortifying and his ability to unlock the emotional component to music and poetry is confident and magical.”

Orr, who directs advertising through Chicago-based STORY, was asked by Reagan to contribute to the project after viewing the artist’s recent solo exhibition Radiance + Reflection: Mandalas and Moon held at Tibet House in New York City. It included meticulously crafted mandalas inspired by Buddhist philosophy and derived from images of the moon. Reagan suggested that Orr apply a similar aesthetic to a video for Cave’s song based on the melancholic sound of a mourning dove.

“I had been collecting bird feathers for years,” Orr recalls. “I had shoeboxes full of them at home and had been toying with the idea of doing something geometric with them. Feathers are both beautiful forms and rich in spiritual meaning.”

For Wood Dove, Orr had to develop a way to add motion to his still photographic technique. “I created animations and series of stills using a small tabletop rig,” he says. “I layered patterns over each other, interweaving them, and incorporated bits of motion. Everything is meant to suggest motion even though a lot of the source images were stills.”

“The most important thing was to get it to evolve organically so that the transitions felt fluid but not entirely expected,” he adds. “There are small hops by design because I wanted to be sure viewers aren’t entirely lost in the flow.  I want people to pay attention.”

Reagan notes that she and Poster formed a “synchronous kinship” with Orr through the project. “Our creative brief was wide open for his interpretation,” she explains.” Upon viewing the moving works of art that emerged through his heartfelt explorations, I observed how viewing each piece can be a journey in consciousness and profound learning. This meditative film pairs beautifully with the soundtrack…. all elements that reflect for me a commitment to bird conservation, and a deep dive remembrance of our human journey towards collective unity, love and peace.”

Orr notes that the work isn’t purely abstract but inspired directly by Cave’s song. “The imagery supports and illustrates the music and lyrics,” he notes. “Subtle changes in the music are reflected in the movement of the feathers. Cave’s music includes a sampling of the cooing of a mourning dove. So, in a way, you could say that the entire piece was generated from the birds themselves.”

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