Bat in a Vat

Bat in a Vat references the Brain in a Vat thought experiment which theorizes that the brain is disembodied, suspended in life sustaining fluid and connected with wires to a supercomputer which simulates our reality. The simulation is run by a mad scientist; a modern version of what René Descartes called the “evil demon” in his Meditations on First Philosophy.

Bat in a Vat is an investigation of my own reality and psyche. I use the bat as a symbol of the Jungian Shadow as well as a symbol of nocturnal mysteries when the subconscious takes over.

This body of work is broken into three parts; reconstructed visions, investigations of my psyche and reality, and small studies.

The reconstructed visions are made using instant film in a Polaroid camera. The use of film for these images reflects how these visions develop in my mind. I have pulled these images from dreams, nightmares, death visions, and fantasies and reconstructed them using cutouts of my own snapshots as well as found imagery. These images contain vital elements in understanding my fears and hopes. What do these visions mean, and why do they continue to stay with me?

Introducing imagery of the bat is my attempt to confront the shadow and understand some of these fears. Using digital capture and manipulation, I create antiquated looking photographs by artificial means. The historic portraits which I have re-photographed are of my ancestors, where I am looking for signs of myself and my identity. I never knew these individuals, but they are a part of me. What secrets did they hold? Are these ancestors proof of my existence, or are they all a part of the simulation?

The bat etudes are made using the wet plate collodion process which I artificially emulated in the other work. These authentic, one of a kind tintypes are practices in a difficult and historic medium. They are specimens to be examined – proofs that the bat exists.

By putting the shadow under scrutiny and creating realities for it to exist in, I have placed the bat in a vat to study and question. By confronting my past and my subconscious I am asking questions about the formation of my identity and shedding light on my own projections. The reconstructed visions are proofs of the internal realities that my psyche constructs – little mementos of the mind – but whether conscious or subconscious I am the one who created these visions.

Who then, is the evil demon?