Sensorium of Animals

Artistic research project


Collaborative artistic research with Shintaro Miyazaki
unded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNFS)
SNFS No. 159 849

“Sensorium of Animals” is a walk-in installation that derives from an art and science research project of the same name. This research was inspired by the elephant-nosed fish’s sensory ecology – a species that can make sense of their environment through self-generated electromagnetic (EM) fields. We intertwined the cyborgian, even electronics-like trait of this fish with the seemingly immaterial worlds of our signal-based information technologies. We wanted to ask if it could be possible to engineer and cultivate the EM sense similar to that of the elephant-nosed fish for the human sensory apparatus? What kind of future society would unfold through the design of such altered sensory capabilities? Or conversely, what kind of society would develop the necessity for such sensory capabilities?

The installation is our “research aquarium” – this space served as a productive environment during our work process presenting all the artefacts from our research staged as an “ imaginary laboratory” of an unnamed scientist with a desk, chair and shelves. These exhibited objects comprise of the electronic prototypes that enabled us to transduce high-frequency radio signals into sound and from that into tactile vibration as a sensation on the human skin, as well as our fictional prototypes that merge the symbolic realm of electromagnetism with the history of science, mythology and culture and that were used in two short films as props. This showcase is expanded by our collection of curious objects and books relating to our inquiry. All this is framed by an analytical chalk diagram on the wall that provides the framework to our interest areas.

Our installation offers an immersive experience and insight into a research process that normally remains hidden but here receives a tangible form. We have exhibited the project in various locations and adapted it to the exhibition venue.

A publication about this work under the title “Following the elephant-nosed fish” is forthcoming in 2021, published by Diamond Paper in Berlin.

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