Chiroptera Domus














Link to Video:

Image of Bat House on the side of The Alburqurque Museum of Art and History, 2012 during the daylight hours.


Chiroptera Domus, which is Latin for Bat house, seeks to merge a functional habitat with an expressive art form. A pair of Heterodyne Bat Detectors mounted to roof of a custom-built bat house listen for the ultra sonic signals of bats feeding and navigating in the local vicinity.  The detected signal is recorded and played back randomly as a sound composition during the exhibition.  This work explores the potentials of how art and habitat can create a hybrid form.
Here the machine creates a mutually beneficial interaction for both human observer and bat. 

The Bat Detectors use the heterodyne principle to monitor bat echolocations. The bat detectors can be tuned to monitor frequencies from 10kHz to 130 kHz.  The detector inputs inaudible high frequency ultrasound and converts it to frequencies between 100Hz and 12kHz that are in a range humans can hear.  The bat detectors microphones have been mounted onto a pair of poles with weather resistant housings.  Since the ultrasonic signals being monitored are highly directional the microphone poles use servomechanisms to pan slowly from left to right scanning the vicinity in different directions.





Image of Bat House as seen through window museum near monitor and speaker display that output recordings of bat echolocations.



Many species of American bats face Habitat loss due to urbanization and suburban sprawl. Currently a 'white nose disease' an affliction with no known cause is severely damaging bat populations in many parts of the U.S.   Chiroptera Domus offers a solution that is both desirable to both human and bat.  Bats have proven to be a species that will take readily to the creation of artificial habitat.  Creating artificial habitat for bats gives an alternative location for roosting possibly keeping these creatures from entering urban dwellings.   In a one-hour feeding a Brown Bat can eat 1,200 insects.  Additionally the guano they produce is a sought after natural fertilizer.

This bat house is designed to conform to all the required needs of a functional bat house as described by the Bat Conservation International.   The bat house will require some time for the local bats to populate its structure. Each evening of the exhibition the bat house will scan for bat echolocations.  Recordings made from detected signals are automatically added to the computers hard drive creating a database of bat echolocations for the duration of the exhibition. These stored samples are randomly retrieved and played back with software on the Audio speakers for the duration of the exhibition.

Chiroptera Domus uses a custom built Max/Msp patch for recording and playing back detected bat signals. An Arduino controls the operation of servomotors located in the roof of the bathhouse. Additionally a QuickTime video of the bathhouse operating at night is shown on a HTML page running on a monitor inside the exhibition space.  Chiroptera Domus was installed at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History as part of ISEA 2012: Machine Wilderness main exhibition. 











Bat House Dimensions: 66.5 in. W x 9 in. D x 68 in.

Hardware:  super heterodyne bat detectors, Mac-Mini, 2TB external hardrive, servomotors, Arduino Nano, real-time clock, LED's, dc power supplies and various electronics, plywood, steel, rubber, fiberglass.

Software: Max/Msp custom patch for recording and playing back detected bat signals, Arduino Code for control of servomotors.


bat house interior

Monitor and speaker display that output recordings of bat echolocations.


Chiroptera Domus, was developed and created by Daniel Miller, 2012.

Generous support for this project has been received from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago as part of a Faculty Enrichment Grant in 2012.  Additional support has been received from The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History for the exhibition of this project at ISEA 2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness main exhibition.