Sketches for Art for Animals: Cat and Mouse

I wanted to make art for animals. In order to make art for animals, I needed to know what kind of art animals would like. In order to know what kind of art animals would like, I needed to understand what it’s like to be an animal–what it’s like to see and hear and think and feel and behave like an animal. Thus, a series called Sketches for Art for Animals. These projects were also made for other people to try, so that they could give me feedback about their own experiences, and also so they can make their own art for animals.

This project is intended to help understand what it is like to hear the world from an animal’s point of view.

This is a simple Cat and Mouse game—a basic situation of Predator and Prey—mediated by the participant’s sense of hearing. Many animals, such as cats, mice, dogs, etc., have a much better sense of hearing than we humans do. This game seeks to put the participants in their place by removing their primary sense as humans—sight—and making them focus on sound instead, using artificial means. It also provides insights into the primal roles of predator and prey and their concomitant experiences of aggression and fear.

This is a project for two people. One is the Cat and one is the Mouse. Both the Cat and Mouse are blindfolded and given a directional microphone, which amplifies sounds in whatever direction it is pointing in. The Cat uses its directional microphone to try to catch the Mouse, and the Mouse uses its directional microphone to attempt to escape capture. The participants set a time limit for the game; if the Cat finds the Mouse within that time, the Cat wins, if not, the Mouse wins.

The Mouse is required to make some kind of simple, repetitive noise every 10 seconds—for instance, scratching the side of the container with his fingernails. The Cat listens for these sounds, then tries to zero-in on them and catch the Mouse. The exact sounds are up to the participants—they could be scratching, whistling, or even the classic children’s game of “Marco…Polo!”

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