20. The Departure, 2002-2004, acrylic/oil/print/canvas, 200 x 400 cm

20. The Departure, 2004

A distinguished gentleman dressed in black and white finds himself on a stage with several layers of transparent curtains. An assembly of plants watches him during a reflective moment.

To the right you find the same sequence of plants in full color, including a few small insects. The plants on this side have a view into a garden, where a chattering of starlings circles round in the sky. On closer inspection the birds in flight appear on a television screen. The screen swells up a bit on all four sides. Plus, the print shows the pixilated pattern of a TV.

The man seems in awe of the organizational skills of the birds flying in formation. They appear to move around effortlessly in every possible direction at high speed, constantly changing form, without losing structure, without stress. And last but not least: no starling seems to be in charge, there’s no management!

Communication with their seven nearest neighbors is vital to coordinate their movements in whatever size flock; better known as scale-free correlation. This correlation allows starlings to greatly enhance what researchers call effective perceptive range. The group feels and responds as one and cannot be divided into independent subparts.