Cat’s eye view of the village


Jeff with camera and GPS (Photo: Imogen Semmler)

Jeff with camera and GPS (Photo: Imogen Semmler)

ERSKINEVILLE: The secret lives of cats are being exposed as part of an art installation project for the Tiny Stadiums Festival.

Imogen Semmler, the Alice Springs-based artist behind the initiative, attached motion-activated cat cameras and GPS tracking devices to 18 cats in the suburb.

The aim was to understand the complex behaviour and social interactions of the cats by monitoring where they went and who they saw.

“I lived in Erskineville for three years … when I used to live here I would see the cats, especially when you walk home at night and I’d see them hanging out in little ‘cat gangs’,” Semmler said.

“I was just a bit fascinated by them and it made me think a lot about urban cat population and about places where there might be lots of cats living in a small suburb.”

Spurred on by her interest in cat behaviour Semmler approached the Tiny Stadiums Festival organisers and proposed the project, entitled Pussyfoot: The Cats of Erskineville.

Her project has also doubled as a cat study with support and funding from the Valentine Charlton Cat Centre at the University of Sydney.

“For me it was approaching it from a story-art perspective, to capture stories and to get it out to a wider audience.

The scientific side of it was so that it would be valid and would be able to contribute towards science and research,” she said.

The Tiny Stadiums installation includes a series of short films produced by Semmler and filmmaker Matt Woodham, as well as an interactive tour of Erskineville to view the cats’ homes and meet their owners.

Sydney resident Kelly Huynh attended one of the tours led by Semmler. “I really enjoyed it, as a cat person I loved it a lot,” Huynh said.

“I would definitely sign up for something like this.

I have a cat and he doesn’t stay at home … he’s not an indoor cat so I’d be interested to know what he gets up to when we’re not around.”

Semmler plans to put all the findings from the study online and will continue to work with a GPS analyst to further understand the data and help provide insight into the secret lives of domestic cats.

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