HeatCat Tracker

by | Nov 8, 2022 | Artwork #3: Intervene

Intervention Artwork:

Create an educated guess/hypothesis as to where your cat would spend its time in your domicile with you in its environment

Repeat step one but for when you are not in your home

Track and record the location of your cat over some decided amount of time with you in your home

Repeat step three but without you in its environment

Create visual representations of the collected data (I prefer a heatmap for visual aid)

Compare your findings to your hypotheses

By Sophie Uldry

Artist’s Statement:

I’ve always wondered what indoor cats do when you remove human stimulation, and this artwork offered me the perfect opportunity to finally uncover the truth behind what my cat does “behind closed doors.” I’ve created a piece which displays how my own interactions with my cat will influence it’s decisions, in almost a scientific way. This piece was (once again) inspired by my cats and my incessant love for them, but also my understanding of how cats adapt their behavior for humans specifically. For example, cats are not known to meow at each other, if anything this is a behavior which only appears between mother and kitten, but not among full-grown cats. I want to know more about my cats behaviors, and especially understand the variations between their behavior around me versus alone. Thus “HeatCat Tracker” came to life, with the goal to learn about my cat’s behavior differences! I created hypotheses for where my cats would prefer spending their time and made diagrams to better visualize my assumptions, then I recorded and tracked their actual locations both with me around and without me in the apartment. Initially, I tried using a cat GPS tracker for accurate readings on my cats location without me in the apartment, however this proved unsuccessful since GPS is accurate outdoors, not indoors. My cats are entirely indoor cats, so I had to swap to a more DIY approach. I literally recorded (with a motion detecting video camera that works in the dark) my cat over the course of a few days with and without me around. chose a few time intervals to work with, and used this information to create a more accurate (not most accurate) reading of my cat’s location throughout the apartment.

HeatCat tracker took inspiration from a number of works discussed and shown in lectures. The idea of using tracking or location as a main feature of my artwork was perhaps unexpectedly from a game which also attempts to track players throughout their adventure: Uncle Roy All Around You. Though my game is set strictly within my domicile and only involved my cat, the idea of using location in general as the main data point used in this artwork came from Uncle Roy. I was also inspired by discussions of other animal interventions such as the store alarm cockroaches which used roaches dressed in capes containing material that set off store alarms to, well, set off store alarms. This artwork is also fitting of the Fluxus movement’s focus on chance and randomness, as my heatmap outcome will change every time I record new information of my cats location, and once again leaves the outcome in control of a cat, rather than the person creating the heatmap. I’ve included images depicting my process below, including the failed attempt at using the GPS tracker.

heatmap of cat location hypothesis (with humans)

My hypothesis of my cat’s location with me active in the apartment.

heatmap of cat location hypothesis (without humans)

My hypothesis for where my cat would be without me in the apartment

cat location heatmap with humans in apartment

observed location of cats with humans in the apartment. (similar activity to without, but more concentrated around the two bedrooms)

cat location heatmap without humans in apartment

observed location of cats without humans in the apartment. (mostly sleeping within eyeshot of the apartment entrances).

failed GPS tracker heatmap of cat location

The entirely inaccurate data collected by a GPS (shows cats outside of apartment, which is impossible for strictly indoor cats)