In physically uncomfortable areas, most people instinctively sit in diminutive postures; hunching over, making themselves small, closed and guarded. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy terms position ‘low-power’ poses. The operation of the bamboo apparatus is supported by the findings of Cuddy’s research, which establishes that posing for short periods in ‘high-power’ positions has the ability to decrease anxiety while enhancing confidence and self-assurance. Worn on the body, the apparatus proffers the prerogative of expanding the body - users pull handles upwards, fully extending their arms against a resisting force. This action fans-out screened wings that amplify the motion, additionally operating as a physical shield from physical surroundings. Thus, the apparatus insists that individuals stand in a high power pose to enhance their psychological comfort.
The apparatus is made from bamboo, wire, string, bobbins, nuts & bolts, elastic bands, a belt, and fabric.
The following iteration of the project developed after a site visit to Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour.
The only indication that cockatoos once inhabited the island remains solely within its name.
Since colonial settlement, Cockatoo Island has become a nexus of industrial development. Once a red-gum forest, frequented by sulfur-crested cockatoos, the island became the site of a new penal establishment. Entire sections of the sandstone cliffs were quarried to provide building materials for Circular Quay and a mass of warehousing was built during the World Wars. The Island has since been turned into a recreational space, but only proof of its industrial past remains.
The chosen site; a narrow alleyway between a former war-time shipbuilding warehouse and engineers’ drafting complex represents the pre-eminence of the industrial domain that has marred the island. Directly beneath an overpass, individuals are made to feel small, enveloped by the oppressive, corroding buildings on either side.
The apparatus functions by mirroring the appearance and behaviour of a cockatoo – expanding brilliant white wings and raising a sulfur-yellow crest to assert and announce itself. The device amplifies its user, expanding the body’s kinasphere, becoming a miraculous image of liberation and emancipation from the dejected warehouses and a motif of defiance against the built environment - in reality, they’re dressing up as a cockatoo to remind people that they’ve gotten rid of the birds.