Speaking in Tongues (excerpt) 2019
Audio (duration 1' 35")
Voices: Members of the Grey Headed Flying Fox colony that roost along the River Yarra in central Melbourne, Australia (fruit-eating megabats, known colloquially as fruit bats)
Writer: Tessa Laird - excerpts are from Bat by Tessa Laird, Reaktion Books 2018, with permission
Reader: Catherine Clover
Speculative Audience: Members of the Mexican Free-Tail Bat colonies of Austin and San Antonio, Texas (echolocating microbats)
The audio recording is made during the fruit bats’ daytime roosting along the River Yarra, yet even at this time of day their exchanges drown out my reading voice at times. There are droppings from above where the bats are hanging from the branches. The wingbeats of the bats can be heard as individuals come and go. The hisses and clicks in the recording are my own movements as well as the movements of insects and small lizards in the undergrowth, pushing past the recorder and microphone. These sounds indicate the nature of recording in the field: I am amongst the bats and in their world. There is minimal editing in this recording and after some rehearsals the readings were done in one take (with mistakes and mumbling retained). There is no post-production processing and this approach, which preserves the sonic characteristics of fieldwork, is intended to enable a sense of being there for the listener. Kookaburras and Australian magpies call, a group of rowers passes by on the river.