Nocturnal Fugue

HOST: Fusebox Program with Jiabao Li

Join us for this multisensory journey into the night, where the secret life of bats is revealed through art and technology, challenging our perception of non-human consciousness.

Beginning beneath Austin's iconic Congress Bat Bridge, engage with the captivating stories of bat conservationist Merlin Tuttle and the natural symphony of bats as they fly out from under the bridge at sunset. This intimate bat-watching experience is enhanced by an Augmented Reality (AR) experience built by artists Jiabao Li and Botao Hu that allows you to navigate the environment through echolocation, offering a rare glimpse into the bat's perceptual universe.

Then, the adventure progresses with a walk (or drive) straight down Congress Avenue to our Jones Center rooftop, where Jiabao Li and Matt McCorkle will perform a live bat-inspired soundscape event called "Nocturnal Fugue."

Nocturnal Fugue uses bat vocalizations—from social calls to mating rituals—to artistically create a mesmerizing sonic experience. This soundscape is combined with visual projections that represent the environment in which the specific bat call is being made or in response to. Join us as we explore the complexity of bat communication as it merges with evocative music!

With the help of AI, researchers found bats have more complex language than previously thought, with individual names, the ability to argue over food, and vocal learning. Just like human baby talk, mother bats lower their pitch when talking to babies. What would a baby bat lullaby sound like? Would a song made of bat mating calls be a love song? Inspired by Thomas Nagel's philosophical inquiry in "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?", this project delves into the enigma of truly comprehending the experience of another species. While we may grasp the superficial metadata of bat behavior, the true content of their communication remains elusive. Can we ever fully understand the language of bats, even with the aid of AI? We might not be able to find many words from the bat world in human’s dictionary.

We hope you can join us to experience this unique presentation into bats’ world through the eyes of artists and experts.

For accommodations, please email salexander@thecontemporaryaustin.org.

 

Schedule

  • 7:30P – Meet at bridge for stories with Merlin Tuttle, AR echolocating
  • 8P – Bats depart bridge
  • 9-9:45P – Nocturnal Fugue performance by Jiabao Li and Matt McCorkle on Jones Center Rooftop
  • 10P – Rooftop Closes

     

    Parking

    For bat viewing experience, street or lot parking is available near the viewing site.

     
    Thank you to our program partner, Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation.
     

     

    About Jiabao Li

    Jiabao Li is an interdisciplinary artist, assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin, founding director of Ecocentric Future Lab, and a Harvard graduate. She creates works addressing climate change, interspecies co-creation, humane technology, and perceptions. In Jiabao’s TED Talk, she uncovered how technology mediates the way we perceive reality. Jiabao is the recipient of numerous awards including Forbes China 30 Under 30 and the Outstanding Professor Award at MoMA. Her work has been exhibited internationally, at MoMA, Venice Architecture Biennale, Ars Electronica, Exploratorium, Today Art Museum Biennial, SIGGRAPH, Milan and Dubai Design Week, ISEA, and Museum of Design.

     

    About Matt McCorkle

    Matt McCorkle is an Emmy-nominated artist working at the intersection of sound, art technology, the natural world, and mental health. Using augmented audio, foley, forensic audio isolation, spatial audio processing, virtual reality, and game engines his work seeks to help people experience the world in new ways.

     

    About Merlin Tuttle

    Dr. Merlin Tuttle is widely recognized as the godfather of modern bat conservation. He is a resident of Austin, Texas and an internationally known leader in research, conservation and photography of bats. His photos and research have been featured in five National Geographic articles, the journal Science, and many other leading publications. He founded Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation (MTBC) where he is currently and solely active. Merlin Tuttle Day is August 26, proclaimed by Mayor Steve Adler in 2021 - it's also Merlin's birthday! Thanks to Merlin's life-long and continued dedication, Austin is a world leader in demonstrating that bats make invaluable and safe neighbors. Through Tuttle’s personal efforts, many of our planet’s most important bat colonies are now protected, including the world famous colony of approximately 1.5 million Brazilian free-tailed bats in Austin, Texas.

    AR echolocation experience developed in collaboration with Botao Amber Hu, inventor of HoloKit.