Distant Bats

Distant Bats for Skip Snow [ 2:54 excerpt from the CD ]
a sound piece composed of recordings of bats captured at Everglades National Park in the area of Long Pine Key. Skip Snow is the park’s biologist who instructed me on where and when I’d have the best chances of catching bats. © 2013, Gustavo Matamoros. Subtropics Editions.

Distant Bats

The sounds of bats occur naturally at frequencies beyond our hearing range. we may see them fly by, but we can not hear their cries. This sound installation version of Distant Bats is designed to broadcast the bat calls at downsampled frequencies that we are able to hear. We can now hear their navigation and hunting calls, but in this installation, we cannot see the bats in flight.

Recorded during a month-long AIRIE residency in the Everglades National Park, Distant Bats is dedicated to scientist Skip Snow who educated the artist about the different species of bats likely to be present in the park and when and where they could be found. It is very unusual to try to record sounds that can’t be heard. The recordings featured in Distant Bats were made along Long Pine Key on September 12, 2013 between the hours of 6 and 9 PM.

A stereo version of the 4-channel Listening Gallery sound installation is available in CD format as a limited edition run published in the 2013 winter issue of Irreversible Magazine. © 2013, Subtropics Editions.

Chronology of Public Presentations


Distant Bats (2013)
4-point source pre-concert sound installation
Deep Listening Festival
LAXART, West Hollywood, California

In 2016, cellist and improviser extraordinaire Fred Lonberg-Holm was invited to the Subtropics Artist Residency at Audiotheque, a Miami based initiative. He then set out into the Everglades of Northern Florida where he took as collaborators the very vocal and varied species of frogs. Impeccably documented by the experienced soundscape artist and field recordist Gustavo Matamoros, the result was the 2018 release Bow Hard At the Frog. Matamoros’ microphones literally soaked up the swamp, with its teeming insect life and assorted gurgles. For this live concert, Lonberg-Holm will perform over a spatialized remix manned by Matamoros. The evening will kick off with a version of Matamoros’ 2013 recording Distant Bats.

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Distant Bats (2013)
5-point source public sound art installation
LIMINAL/ADRIFT: (echo)location 
works by Robert Blatt and Gustavo Matamoros by the large banyan trees between holes six and eight (west of Granada Blvd)
Granda Golf Course, Coral Gables, Florida
The Florida bonneted bat, an endemic and endangered species, can be found at night feeding along the banyan trees of the Granada Golf Course within the urban confines of Coral Gables. The artists have responded to this situation with work exploring field recording, light, map making, radio waves, site, sound and text.


Distant Bats ( for Skip Snow ) (2013) | world premiere
16-point source public sound art installation
Listening Gallery, Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida

Original sound installation created for the Listening Gallery using recordings made during a 2013 month-long AIRIE residency in Evenglades National Park

AIRIE: About A Month-Long Residency

Unusual daytime recording session while interacting with friends visiting for a show-and-tell tour of my favorite sites in Everglades National Park. photo by Claudia Ariano, over which i made some notes

I came back from this month-long residency in Everglades National Park with about 120 GB worth of recorded audio, most of which was recorded between the hours of 6pm and 9am.  That means, I slept during the day.

A highlight of my Everglades residency was the week-long visit by David Dunn, who accompanied me on the late night recording expeditions and wrote the wonderful article posted below published Irreversible Magazine.  

Irreversible Magazine | 2013 Winter Issue
Sounding the Everglades
Sound Artist Gustavo Matamoros and an Unusual AIRIE Residency
by David Dunn

“For the phenomenon of music is nothing other than a phenomenon of speculation. The elements at which this speculation necessarily aims are those of sound and time. Music is inconceivable apart from these two elements.” Igor Stravinsky

This quote by the great Russian composer speaks to the primary aspects of an art that uses sound as its base material. While many of us may have trouble coming to an easy accord about the purpose of music, this insight remains legitimate: whatever else music has ever meant, it is essentially the organization of sound and time—and by extension the communication of how the organizer perceives and “hears” these aspects of their world—that defines a common ground for musical creation.

This understanding must also apply to art that does not accept the familiar tropes of traditional musical form and function but is also “a phenomenon of speculation” aimed at the elements of sound and time. The controversial genre of Sound Art—controversial because of how it strives to define an autonomous status as a genre while often straddling between various lineages of experimental music practice and the visual art world—is also a communication of how its practitioners hear their reality. Sound art, however, is much less about the classic interpretive characteristics of musical communication and more about the direct experience and communication of our auditory perception and the use of technology to mediate that perception.

Gustavo Matamoros is one of America’s most important sound artists in addition to being one of the most dedicated advocates for this artistic genre alive today. This is most evident by his untiring commitment to the region of southern Florida as an artist, producer, and community organizer of Miami’s Subtropics Festival for over 25 years. His work has been presented throughout the United States and internationally. It is amongst the most innovative work using sound as its medium being created anywhere. Recently he had the opportunity of a one-month AIRIE residency in the Everglades National Park where he could apply his unique perspective as a sound artist towards the exploration and documentation of that unique auditory world.

There are several issues that characterize Gustavo’s explorations with sound. Taking inspiration from John Cage’s admonition to make art that “imitates nature in its manner of operation,” he is especially interested in how active sound making can articulate the physical and historical context of space, whether man-made or natural. He is always concerned to make projects that heighten our understanding of the unique window that an aural perception of the world provides. In his view, noise is merely sound that has yet to be made fully apprehensible. All sounds are audible evidence of phenomenal reality, and every sound communicates both the unique gestalt of its generative source and contextual environment. The “art” resides in the strategic design that can reveal these properties. Ultimately such revelations can deepen not only our sense of connection to the world but also our aesthetic awe at its beauty.

The AIRIE residency has provided Gustavo with what has been the most extended period of time in his career to simply listen to and record the sounds of the natural world. Such a listening opportunity is much more than mere recreation or an exercise in applying and solving technical issues. To place a sensitive microphone into the quietude or cacophony of nature, and amplify its details, changes the way we listen to everything and is as important for a sound artist as learning the established canon of musical precedence is for a composer. At this historical moment, it is also critical for our species. Bearing witness to the disappearing voices of the non-human world, and making them audible to others, is an act of defiance against those forces that claim no value to that world other than an exploitation that fattens the “multi-headed beasts”—as defined by Buckminster Fuller—that too often guide corporate agendas and vested power structures.

So, how will Gustavo make further use of the sounds that he experienced and collected? For him this was just the beginning of an ongoing process that will lead him to spend further time in the Everglades National Park. The CD that accompanies this magazine, and an installation version of the same material for the Listening Gallery on Lincoln Road, are the most concrete projects to date. There are also many ideas for future projects. These include a proposal for Soundscape Park and a CD of sounds representing the Everglades from a natural history perspective. It will probably be something made available as a semi-commercial product capable of contributing another, and otherwise impossible, level of experience to park visitors. Such projects exemplify the movement of the arts towards increasing our social and environmental awareness.