The world is filled with invisible geometry, from the patterns of Wi-Fi signals cloaking our nation’s capital to the indiscernible dark matter that makes up the bulk of our universe. Oftentimes, these invisible lines are traced right in front of our eyes. For a case in point, consider the work of artist Dennis Hlynsky, who films birds in flight and then traces their paths into visible lines floating in the air like the contrails of jets.
A professor at the Rhode Island School Of Design, Hlynsky started filming birds back in 2005 when he began wondering what would happen if he traced the flight paths of individual birds. He uses a Panasonic Lumix GH2 camera mounted on a tripod to film a static scene like a group of telephone poles. He then uses Adobe After Effects to blur together a bird’s position on each individual frame into a time-lapsed trail.
It’s not necessarily a sophisticated technique, but the end effect is still extraordinary. As they swoop between trees, underneath wires, and fly wing-to-wing with one another, in Hlynsky’s videos, birds move almost like a liquid. Watching them, it’s as if you’ve dropped dye into a small pool to trace the water’s invisible eddies and currents.
There’s a beautiful word–murmuration–that describes a flock of starlings, but could also be used to describe the sound that flowing water makes: the murmuring of a brook, for example. Hlynsky’s videos unite these two in an art form all its own.
If you would like to see more of Hlynsky’s work, he has many videos tracing the patterns made by birds, insects, and more here.