Crow Journal 15

12 / 06 / 2023

Thoughts about crows, sightings, encounters, communication ... 
I sourced materials for the crow costume at the weekend. I already have a lot of the orange and yellow ribbons from the carpet that I was repairing which I want to use in some way, and I have already been experimenting with this material to make six-thread braids. I imagined that this orange fabric would make a kind of shell or frame for the rest of the costume.

I would just like to point out at this juncture, as a caveat, that I have no confidence at all that the costume will be GREAT. I have a lot of confidence that the process will be interesting, however, and that it will be another way to engage with the ideas of the research process. I think imagining putting one’s own body into a performative situation brings up a lot of important questions that need to be answered. It is also a way of very quickly taking the research out of the theoretical and making it physicalised.

So, I found the materials for the costume in a shop in town. They sell these beautiful handmade carpets that the owner weaves on a giant wooden loom right there in the shop. I’ve walked past it a lot but never gone in before. The rugs are expensive and the shop is quite small and it looks quiet. But on Saturday, there was a town fair and the doors of the shop were open, and there was a sale on. 20 % of all rugs inside. It was quiet inside. No one else. The owner came to say hello.

It ended up being kind of embarrassing because I bought some pieces of fabric and ribbons for 1.40 €. 

My idea for the costume right from the beginning is to make some entirely through plaiting and braiding and knotting. No sewing and no large panels of fabric. As such, the costume will be worn over a black shirt or naked skin perhaps. I don’t know.

I’ve been looking at crow costumes online and some of them are beautiful and some of them are ugly and some of them are hilarious. There are a lot of references to the plague doctors with their long beaked masks and long black overcoats. There are plenty of Brandon Lee lookalikes with white pancake makeup and black lips and eyes. There are a surprising amount of Hallowe’en crows where the crow’s head is an elongated skull mask. Then there are the ‘sexy crows’ inspired, it seems, by Black Swan, the full-body plush crow suits that make the wearer look like the mascot of a second-hand car sales concern called Crow’s Quality Motors, and the minimal crows — just beak and wings, little ones. The final category are the realistic crows. These costumes are ornate and appear extremely heavy with anatomically correct wings and full head masks. 

I’m not sure I want to go down any of these routes. I think plague doctor crow is the one to avoid, because it’s simple and kinda cool and not stupid. Therefore also kinda boring. And of course sexy crow and used car crow are both tempting. Perhaps I should have a costume from each category and change from one to the other while the audio interviews are playing. That would need some budget. It could be a very interesting collaboration with a number of costume makers and designers. 

Hm. There’s an idea.