Jeremy Knowles

Bats in the Belfry


‘Cities are more taxing than they seem. Psychiatric disorders and anxiety are 34% more common in urban areas, and growing up in one at least doubles the chances of developing schizophrenia. Urban living actually changes the biology of the brain.’

- Michael Bond, ‘Wayfinding’, 2020

Bats in the Belfry was a VR experience created for the 2022 program of 48 Stunden Neukölln in Berlin. During the opening times, guests visiting the courtyard at Polymedialer Ponyhof were asked to put on VR headsets, leave the city, and enter a simulation of my own private space.

During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the spaces I occupied in Berlin contracted. My bedroom in Lichtenberg became the control centre for the most pressing concerns of my life: work, exercise, creativity, communication, free time, nutrition and, of course, sleep. It was simultaneously an office, gym, studio, cafe, cinema, bar and bedroom at any given time of the day.

A city contained within a room.

Sometimes I wonder how to reconnect my control centre with the Berlin it once simulated. How do we memorialize the spaces we elevated to the status of ‘city-like’ over the course of the pandemic?