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Rat Laughter, 2017. Video, sound, 1’18 min looped. Collaboration with Mainly Rat Rescue. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.


Kathy High and Michelle Temple base their ongoing project, Rat Laughter, on the discoveries of the neuroscientist Dr. Jaak Panksepp, who tickled rats to prove that they—like humans—not only laugh, but also enjoy such stimulation. The artists travel to homes with pet rats to record their verbal expressions of pleasure.  Knowing that laughter is contagious for humans, High and Temple create a soundtrack for laboratory rats with the hope that they, like us, will respond positively to familiar sounds of happiness. Rat Laughter serves as an attempt at reciprocal care for such animals, bred and used for the wellbeing of humankind.

Kathy High (USA) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator working with technology, art and biology. She collaborates with scientists and other artists, and considers living systems, empathy, animal sentience, and the social, political and ethical dilemmas of biotechnology and surrounding industries. She has received awards including Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts. Her art works have been shown at documenta 13 (Germany), Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and Exit Art (NYC), UCLA (Los Angeles), Science Gallery, (Dublin), NGBK, (Berlin), Fesitval Transitio_MX (Mexico), MASS MoCA (North Adams), Esther Klein Gallery (Philadelphia) and Para-site (Hong Kong). High is Professor in the Arts, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and has a lab in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. She is project coordinator of bio/ecology+art workshops and is creating an urban nature center in North Troy (NATURE Lab) with community media organization The Sanctuary for Independent Media. She is an ongoing Vivo Art artist in resident with the Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutic, DePaolo Lab, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.

Michelle Temple is an artist/instrument designer whose work investigates the intersection of organic/semi-living materials with audio signals outside of the human hearing spectrum so as to draw attention to communication systems which human beings cannot perceive. Michelle holds a master's degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications program and is currently enrolled in the Electronic Arts PhD program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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