Since this incident, I have remained mystified by crows, though I have sought to learn more about their peculiar habits and history. When I think of crows today, I generally associate the corvid with a feeling of disturbance, or dread. Since my return to Canada’s largest city, Toronto, I have rarely, if ever, seen a crow upon the urban landscape, so (aside from my earlier experience) my recollection of crows in mythical and storied pictures prevails.
A particular painting compels me: Alex Colville’s Seven Crows (1980), firstly because of its depiction of a rural landscape, which I feel drawn to, and secondly for the presence of these black birds in flight; in this mysterious painting, crows appear in a field, where I envision they naturally belong, and yet the painting evokes a sense of an ‘other’ world — somehow evoking the mystical, the spiritual, and possibly, the occult.
Is my response an affect somehow generated by the painting’s dark, brooding depiction of crows in flight? Or is it simply a depiction of the crow itself that provokes this eerie response, due to countless generations of storied relations with the crow in our DNA, with this messenger and harbinger of the dead?