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Cranes In Motion

Project Elements


The Cranes in Motion Project is an intermedia undertaking including: documentary, moving images, and sound to explore the fascinating dynamics of crane culture and natural history. It artistically interprets the fascinating dynamics of crane culture in an effort to understand this unique species and our shared ecosystems. “I am compelled by the longevity of the crane and their struggle for survival to further explore the complexities of their ecosystems.”

The multi-media exhibition installation artwork includes: Mimicking Whooper uses state of the art gaming software to provide an opportunity to virtually interact with Whooping Cranes – to figuratively dance their dance. Prehistoric Resurrection, inspired by the idea of ‘resurrection biology’, this animated and live-action shortvisually connects prehistoric references to crane survival and longevity through the beauty of movement and the tools of technology. A 3-D animated crane skeleton emerges from an actual photo of a 12 million year-old fossil that then transforms into motion; interacting with present day Sandhill Cranes and flies away with the flock. Extreme Close Ups, Through the lens, the photographs enable us to meet the cranes eye to eye, and ponder the magnificent details of evolution’s handiwork. Specimens 2015, a fragmented view of the crane skeleton. Crane Migration Sound Recordings, a collaboration with field recorder, Paul Dickinson. Summer Home, shot in Wisconsin, Cedar lake, Town of Union. Crane & Nature Poetry featuring 4 poems united with images: Lorine Niedecker (20th Century), Linda Hogan (21st century), Japan Emperor Uda (867 –931) the 59th emperor of Japan, and Cathy Cook

The Whooping Crane has been on the endangered species list since 1967, and is the subject of a population recovery program that includes migration training. The Sandhill Crane has been the subject of the most successful recovery program to date, bringing the species’ numbers back from the brink of extinction. Cranes in Motion is the culmination of Cook’s extensive research from 2013 to 2016. While in the field, she and collaborator Paul Dickinson braved freezing temperatures to document thousands of migrating cranes at their refueling stops in Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Maryland, capturing their calls, mating dances, migration patterns, nesting, and other activities. Ultimately, Cook aspires to create an experience that will help connect humans to cranes at a time when their wetland and grassland homes are threatened and their environment compromised, opening the way to a greater understanding and empathy for the complex ecological issues surrounding this ancient species. Drawing on her decades of experience directing and producing films, Cook approached this project with the same directorial oversight as a filmmaker. She collaborated with numerous artists and organizations whose work has enriched the Cranes in Motion project. The following list includes funders and team members, all of whom provided invaluable support to this multifaceted project.

Cathy Cook / Director / Artist / Cinematographer
Deborah Firestone, Artist / 3-D Animator
Paul Dickinson, Sound Recordist & Field Collaborator
Gionatan Tecle, Post-Production Assistant
Ryan Zuber, Technical Director of Animation, IRC
Mark Jarzynski, (Phase II) Technical Director, IRC
Boris Boiko, Programmer, Mimicking Whooper, IRC
Research Support
The Field Museum – Chicago, IL
International Crane Foundation (ICF), Baraboo, WI
University of Nebraska State Museum Archives – Lincoln, NE
Rowe Sanctuary – Audubon, NE
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center – Laurel, MD
Collaborators – Imaging Research Center, UMBC, MD