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Speaking in Tongues (2019) for Assembling Animal Communication
Exhibition curated by Dr. Kevin Chua
Landmark Gallery at Texas Tech University Lubbock Texas US
March 22 - April 28, 2019  
With Catherine Chalmers, Catherine Clover, Darcie DeAngelo, Lee Diegaard, Maria Lux

    Exhibition link  
    Voices Members of the Grey Headed Flying Fox colony that roost along the River Yarra in central Melbourne, Australia (fruit-eating megabats, known colloquially as fruit bats)
Speculative Audience Members of the Mexican Free-Tail Bat colonies of Austin and San Antonio, Texas (echolocating microbats)
Writer Tessa Laird Bat pub Reaktion Books 2018, with permission
Reader Catherine Clover

Audio Details
0 - 15’ 06” The fruit bats call and socialise throughout
0’ 05” Lin Onus - artist
0’ 44” Laughing Kookaburras
1’ 30” Rowers
2’ 15” Jack Pettigrew - evolutionary biologist
5’ 43” Kathy Holowko - artist
6’ 40” Helen Pynor - artist
8’ 40” Jeremy Deller - artist
13’ 38” Australian Magpies

The audio recording is made during the fruit bats’ daytime roosting along the River Yarra, yet even at this time of day their exchanges drown out my reading voice at times. There are droppings from above where the bats are hanging from the branches. The wingbeats of the bats can be heard as individuals come and go. The hisses and clicks in the recording are my own movements as well as the movements of insects and small lizards in the undergrowth, pushing past the recorder and microphone. These sounds indicate the nature of recording in the field: I am amongst the bats and in their world. There is minimal editing in this recording and after some rehearsals the readings were done in one take (with mistakes and mumbling retained). There is no post-production processing and this approach, which preserves the sonic characteristics of fieldwork, is intended to enable a sense of being there for the listener. Kookaburras and Australian magpies call, a group of rowers passes by on the river.

The two digital prints are poetic transcriptions of the bats’ exchanges using phonetic approximation.

    The content of this installation is extended in a discussion with Tessa Laird in a chapter that will appear in Ventriloquism and Contemporary Art edited by Jennie Hirsch, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Isabelle L Wallace, Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia 2020/2021  
    Audio excerpt 1'35"  
    Image Credit The World of Bats, photographs by Nina Leen  

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