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What if I was a rat?
by Ilona Huss Walin

Broadcasted live during five weeks
from "nonTVTVstation" 7okt - 11 nov 2002 (see their archive).

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See VIDEO documentation here:

The TV steps inside the home of the caveman. What do we have the technology of communication for, isn't it for inter-human needs? I have decided to use the communication technology offered by "nonTVTVstation" to document something very basic - a home. I have built a home for rats. It looks like a home for humans, but it is built in a scale adjusted to the size of the rats. In real time filming we get the chance to see what rats are doing when they are at home. And that is not really much. I have created some kind of "anti-action" where we get the chance to reflect over ourselves. The real time film mirrors a need for calm and rest. Even the high-technology can be used to show the calm life and that we need peace to reflect over our situation.
When we

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see the rats in the human home we automatically try to understand them. But instead of listening to them we have to look at them and interpret their visual communication. When we look at tv we usually use
our ears to understand the human communication - what people say to each other. Here we have to trust to our eyes. We look if the rats are behaving. And they do, as rats behave.
My real time film is some sort of an inverted tv where the tv looks at us instead of us looking at the tv. The tv sees us eating, sleeping and
resting without making any intrigues.

(Ilona Huss Walin on the project)

Read more about the projekt with text by Björn Norberg (curator for nonTVTVstation).

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More stills from the real time film "What if I was a rat?"


At nonTVTVstation´s studio. The rat´s life in the "appartement box" was documented by eight video cameras and broadcasted directly, during five weeks, as a real time film to several art museums in Scandinavia.


The technical process behind "What if I was a rat":
I built an appartement box for rats. The picture above shows how the "rat appartement" looked from the outside.

I tried to build the
interior of the "rat size - human appartement" as realistic as possible and in the scale of the rats. While building it I studied my rat´s behaviour. During that process I adapted the home not only after their size but also after their behaviour. I wanted them to like the home and use it actively being what they are - rats. See pictures from building process in my studio. The "rat appartement" consisted of two wooden boxes, with peakwholes for the broadcasting cameras.
At nonTVTVstation´s studio: Eight cameras (peaking in through plexiglass windows) were documenting the rat´s life in the small, human looking, appartement. The eight different camera angels took turn in showing it´s view with the help from a switcher. The broadcasted real time picture, that the public saw, changed continuosly - every four seconds - between the eight different camera views.

On this picture you can see the appartement box from above.
One of the rats is resting in the bed, in the "sleeping room".
In front of the rat you can see one of the cameras peaking
in through a plexiglass whole.
More studio pictures.

To the left you can see some stills and a video fragment from the real time film "What if I was a rat?". The rats life was directly broadcasted and projected at museums in Scandinavia, during five weeks 7 okt - 11 nov 2002. You could also follow the scenario from nonTVTVstations´s homepage,

Read also more about nonTVTVstation and their continuous real time broadcasting at: In the archive at nonTVTVstation you can f.ex. see a 20 min video fragment from the realtime film "What if I was a rat?"

Special thanks to Olle Huge (at nonTVTVstation ) who helped me taking care of the rats during the five weeks.