Bats in the Belfry

VR Project
48 Stunden Neukölln
Polymedialer Ponyhof, Berlin

- 2022

Bats in the Belfry was a VR experience I created for the 2022 program of 48 Stunden Neukölln. Visitors to the courtyard of Polymedialer Ponyhof were invited to put on VR headsets, leave the sights and sounds of the festival, and enter a simulation of my bedroom.

By asking complete strangers to enter this representation of my intimate and private space, I wanted to facilitate the conditions through which visitors would not only feel slightly uncomfortable being in this environment but investigate the authenticity and source of this feeling. After two years of experiencing COVID restrictions, I also wanted to explore how my own notions of private and public had shifted. Guests inside the simulation of my bedroom often reported feeling they had violated my private space. And interestingly, so did I.

The project responded to the theme of the festival in 2022, Kafayı yemek, which the Turkish Dictionary of Sayings and Idioms defines as the feeling of becoming distressed due to extreme tiredness. It translates to ‘Ich esse meinen Kopf’ (DE) / ‘I’m going to eat my head off’ (EN). Kafayı yemek can be seen both as a reaction to, and an expression of, confusion in moments of over-stimulation or anxiety. A comparable expression in English is bats in the belfry, which is used to describe a person who is wild, erratic or nonsensical. When we say that someone has “bats in their belfry”, we refer to a person who acts as though they have bats darting and flitting around inside their head, making them seem absent and unpredictable.

What is highlighted in idioms such as kafayı yemek, Ich esse meinen Kopf, and bats in the belfry is our tendency to conflate the emotional with the physical. Such is our need to situate and make tangible our mental condition in those times we find ourselves feeling ‘out of place’.

Project contributors:
- Raised by Puritans (Music)
- ALPHA_RATS (Game Design)