Read "From a Bat's Point of View", an article by Suzana Milevska about Darker Than Night, originally published in: Dobrila, Peter T. and Kostic, Aleksandra (eds.), Eduardo Kac: Telepresence, Biotelematics, and Transgenic Art (Maribor, Slovenia: Kibla, 2000), pp. 47-52.

See also: Darker Than Night Bibliography


What: Telepresence artwork by Eduardo Kac

When: From June 17th to July 7th 1999

Where: Bat cave at Blijdorp Zoological Gardens in Rotterdam

Exhibition hours: daily from 9.00 am to 18.00 pm.

"Darker Than Night" is a telepresence artwork which explores the human-machine-animal interface and telepresence as a means of mediating relations of empathy. In this interactive piece, participants, a telerobotic bat (batbot) and over 300 Egyptian Fruit Bats share a cave at the Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam. The cave is dark at all hours and has 15 meters in diameter and 20 meters in height. To see the bats the public peers through a window.

At the exhibition site participants stand outside looking into a spacious man-made "natural habitat", a dark cave where the batbot continuously sweeps through the space with its ultrasonic emissions. The batbot, the central element of the installation, contains a small sonar unit inside it's head, a frequency converter to transform bat echolocation calls into audible sounds, and a motorized neck which enables it's head to spin.

The sonar unit scans the space at 45KHz and is wired to a computer taking in data and providing video output to local. The batbot is a telepresence medium through which participants enter into the cave via a virtual reality headset. With the headset on, the viewer's sight is transformed into the point of view of the batbot's sonar.

This work brings the participants together to foster an interspecies, dialogical experience. The behavior and the biosonar of the Egyptian Fruit Bats in the cave will affect the participants, while the behavior and the telerobotic sonar of the participants in the body of the batbot will affect the Egyptian Fruit Bats. Both groups will become aware of their mutual presence and actions, since they will be able to hear and track each other.

"Darker Than Night" emphasizes the barriers that prohibit each individual to move beyond one's insular, self-reflective experience. The bat, a rarely understood, enigmatic, flying mammal, represents the mystery and nuances held within each individual's consciousness.


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