Pittsburgh Riverfronts

Invisible Ecologies

Invisible Ecologies birdhouse sculptures shown along the Allegheny River

Invisible Ecologies is a public art installation by Future Green Studio along the Allegheny waterfront in downtown Pittsburgh.  Future Green is a design collective in Brooklyn, NY whose work is focused on the intersection of art, ecology, and urbanism.  This project is in collaboration with Clear Story and is supported by Riverlife and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Invisible Ecologies seeks to reveal the latent potential for human, plant, and wildlife interaction within the constructed urban environment. Like a plant emerging through a crack in a concrete sidewalk, wildlife, too, can adapt and thrive in the harshest urban conditions.

This sculpture repositions man-made materials found in the urban environment – objects like concrete, graffiti, and discarded plastic and glass – and aggregates them into a series of structures mounted on steel pedestals.

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The piece is arranged in a cloud‐like form reminiscent of a flock of birds along a path in Allegheny Riverfront Park.

These assemblages are not just relics of the current anthropogenic condition but are also living structures offering the opportunity for renewal and resilience. Each “house” is carefully designed with a ventilated wooden interior to provide shelter to native river‐edge bird species like eastern bluebird, house wrens, purple martins, tree swallows, and black‐capped chickadees, among others.

This installation is an attempt at soft alchemy, a process through which the carbon‐intensive materials that humans have used to limit and destroy natural ecological systems are transformed into objects of possibility and hope; offering a sense of intimate immensity that connects people to nature, site to region, and urban to wild.

‘Hyper Nature’ Mechanism

Invisible Ecologies simulates nature in an intensified way, providing complex layers of food source, habitat, and pollination.

Invisible Ecologies "Hyper Nature Mechanism"

Learn more about the birds

Click on the images below to visit Audubon’s Guide to North American Birds and learn more about the species Invisible Ecologies was created to shelter. You can also hear audio clips of each bird’s call.

‘Soft Alchemy’ bird house

Future Green fabricated all elements of the installation in their facilities in Red Hook, Brooklyn, turning carbon-intensive materials typically used to limit and destroy the natural environment into objects of possibility and hope.

Process Gallery

Your turn

We’ll be showcasing the evolution of this installation throughout the seasons and we’d love to have your help. Have you spotted any of the birds near the Invisible Ecologies installation? Snap a photo and send it to info@riverlifepgh.org with the subject line “Invisible Ecologies photo.”

Project Partners

Future Green Studio
Clear Story
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Riverlife
Property Owner: City of Pittsburgh

Background

Invisible Ecologies is part of ArtWalk on the Allegheny, an initiative led by Riverlife and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to bring immersive works of art to a two-mile stretch of riverfront between Point State Park and the Strip District. Future Green Studio was selected as an ArtWalk participant through a local juried public process. The installation debuts in June 2021 as part of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

This project received a RADical ImPAct Grant from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD).