Fusing theatre, animal encounters and a multi-media tour, I, Animal puts back the 'oo' in zoo with an adults-only interactive journey. Guided by your personal iPod touch, you will explore the Melbourne Zoo at night, meeting the animals and with stories and theatrical surprises around each corner. Produced in collaboration with the Border Project, the experience uses an application built specifically for the zoo by Art Processors, the technical design team behind the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).
On Time Out's visit, we're assigned the monkey group. Our iPod guide, 'Zoe', directs our group through our headphones into the primate areas of the zoo. There, she tells us the personal backstories of some of the animals: one was ‘rescued’ by a soldier in Vietnam, another was smuggled out of Rwanda by a Dutch journalist keen to prove that poaching – which had now been banned – could still be done.
Zoe poses us some existential questions, asking us to think back upon our own lives and relationships, drawing comparisons to the beasts on show. She gets us to gaze up at the stars, through waves of gently swaying bamboo. Occasionally we’ll be prompted to type or draw something on our device. It’s cute, without being cloying. In fact, it’s all a little bit magical.
When we’ve finished our tour we hook up with the other groups who have been exploring different families of animals and are treated to a ride on the old carousel as vintage tearjerkers from INXS and Simple Minds play in the background and a peacock leaps from branch to branch in the tree above us. It’s a beautiful night.