In a world first (at least I assume so!) designer Chris Woebken and artist Natalie Jeremijenko have designed a billboard that additionally operates as a habitat for bats. This bizarre project is intended to foster interspecies understanding (i.e. counter that popular bloody-sucking vampire image of the creatures) and preserve the urban environment from bats nesting elsewhere, and causing damage. This sounds slightly conflicting to me as either we want bats in the city or we don’t, with encouraging bats to reside skyward in a billboard seeming to fit neither.
Moreover, the project gets more batty as the billboard also contains software on its surface that is supposed to translate bats’ squeaks and screeches into human speech. Umm, WHAT? Or as this wonderfully cynical article from Adweek comments “Puh-uh-lease!”. While I like the concept of becoming more like Doctor Dolittle (at least in some ways..), the idea is basically implausible. Furthermore, if bat-talk takes over, where does that leave the billboard? Which company would choose to advertise there if the spot is going to monopolised by the natterings of bats? In fact, I can’t see the billboard functioning as advertising at all- with it either being located too high to be read, or decimated with bat droppings. That is even if the bats choose to live there, perhaps with their shrieks being monitored they would rather not.