What is it Like to be a Bat? [2017]

3d-printed listening devices

Commissioned by the National Science and Media Museum for Supersenses

Fabrication by Nick Fry

Taking their title from Thomas Nagel’s 1974 essay of the same name, these wearable ears are scale replicas of a 3D scan of the ear of a Plecotus Auritus bat. The ear was scanned from a collection at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. by Dr Rolf Mueller of Virginia Tech. Resized and remodelled around the human head, the listening devices act to amplify and focus the directionality of incoming sound. Whilst in their symbolism, they direct the wearer towards an auditory imaginary based on a creature for whom the world is sound, they also remind us that it’s impossible, as Nagel states, ‘to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat.’

images by Jody Hartley

Plecotus Auritis 3d scan courtesy Rolf Mueller and Smithsonian Museum, Washington

3d modelling by Nick Fry

Further Projects