top of page

Cliff Swallow Homes

April 2023 | Installation Design

Structural Installation project that visualizes the livelihoods of local California species, Cliff Swallows, and the destructive nature of human intervention. 



USC Articetcture: Madison Canby & Kelli Reitzfeld

Video Design & Projection: Xindi Zhang

Audio Design: Karen Abe

For USC Vision and Voices' "The Vanishing World of Audubon" River Walk and Creative Workshop Event hosted on April 15, 2023.


Cliff swallows have been unphased by humans conquering the landscape. They've adapted to embrace our infrastructure, out of the way of our selfish endeavors, preferring tucked away corners otherwise utilized. In return, Cliff swallows are seen as pests. Vermin. A nuisance. It's illegal to eradicate their intricate, intertwined architecture, but when the punishment is only a $500 fine, the barbaric barrier to (their homes) entry is low. Cliff swallows deserve better. They are a sensitive species relying on community support and ritual for food, shelter, and protection. And in a world where human greed and individualism is dividing our already diminishing community, we have a lot to learn from these humble little birds.


The goal of these interactive nests are to reimagine these ubiquitous, "unsightly" structures as what it is: a materialized, culminated network of helping thy neighbor. Here, we can experience a day in the life of a Cliff Swallow from collectively gathering hundreds of mud balls to make a nest - each a labor of love-, to soaring high in the sky for food, to cultivating a home. A place of comfort. A place free from the stresses and surprises of outside life. A place of community and contemplation.


Cliff swallows aren't pests. They aren't vermin. And they are most certainly not a nuisance. They are birds trying to find a home and plant their roots in this busy, messy, unforgiving city, just like you and me.


Created based on research of the Petrochelidon Pyrrhonota species, the digital media was created based on the sparrow's behavioral patterns and documented video footage. The visual and audio design story-tell the sort of "displacement" that happens with the homes of the Cliff Sparrows.

bottom of page