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I've been thinking of a story revolving around a smallish humanoid troll/lemur-like species with large eyes, a tail, and bat like ears that allows them to use echolocation. They typically prefer low light conditions such as at dusk and night, and are known to create burrows, treehouses, or massive underground networks as a means of protection against predators and invaders. They are highly knowledgeable in ecology and chemistry from interaction with magical fey like spirits that rule over the land. Assume bronze/iron age technology.

Now exposition aside, I was wondering how their art might develop. At night, colors may not be as visible, although they may be able to see UV light. Underground is either unlit or sometimes dimly lit by glowing fungus. Fire is used sparingly only as needed for cooking or crafting.

Perhaps sculptures and writing meant to be touched instead of seen? How might this all affect their culture and aesthetics?

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Large eyes make for good night vision, though for humans it usually means black and white vision. This does not have to be true for other creatures - some low-light cameras can pick colors at light levels in which we cannot see at all.

Check this video: https://youtu.be/Y2nqAmK0kNI

So if you want, your creatures may be able to see color in low light. Otherwise think of what kind of art blind people could enjoy. Seriously, to any museum where curators have put a thought towards accessibility. Then use that as inspiration.

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Rethink art from their perspective. Their perception is based in hearing mainly, ours is based on sight mainly. Thus, it is reasonable that they might create music rather than paintings or sculptures as their first step towards art. And then sculptures with designs which create echoes that are different and interesting to hear.

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    $\begingroup$ This really got me thinking about sound oriented culture. I'm thinking that they might have a rich oral history and culture, with verse and communal dances as part of their social glue. Having more sensitive hearing might make for a sophisticated tonal language with lots of subtlety in meaning. $\endgroup$ – Redbud201 May 29 at 19:56
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They're probably highly reliant on pheromones (think termites and ants). So they'll likely embrace manufactured perfumes from plants and other animals.

They probably rely on touch (star nosed mole). So they'll probably mat down certain patches of fur (if they have it) or rough up skin with calluses or patches of mud. They might even have textured tattoos.

They're probably reliant on sound and or vibrations. So they'll probably have clinky bells and or jewelry.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the way you're thinking. $\endgroup$ – Redbud201 May 29 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ I like the clinky jewelry and pheromone ideas. I should maybe be more specific about their morphology though. They combine features of bats, long tailed primates and humans. Bats, in their senses, because they like to come out at night, and because in cold climates, they can hibernate. Long tailed primates, because they are good at jumping and climbing. (they are about 4-4.5 feet tall on average, and can, without too much effort, jump on another's shoulders.) And humans, by their upright stance and similar distribution of body hair. They also wear clothes. $\endgroup$ – Redbud201 May 29 at 19:48
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I think as others have mentioned, tactile art would feature heavily, but as we don't exclude the presence of light altogether, the most special works may actually be those that explore the presence of light. Remembering that art is for the sake of art and without function, it may even lead to exotic examples that require at the very least simple light (such as fire).

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    $\begingroup$ This goes well with an idea I had I was thinking that family dens would be organized in pods around a communal circular area, lit by bio luminescence. The entrance of each den might be covered by an embroidered curtain with a unique pattern for each family consisting of high contrast patterns to stand out in low light, and perhaps hard pieces, like beads added to provide sound contrast as well. Beaded and patterned clothing might be commonplace. They might also make a domed room with reflective tiles with bright points in order to simulate the night sky and teach astronomy. $\endgroup$ – Redbud201 May 29 at 20:03
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This is all very subjective, but I don't think view or color should be out of the equation.

As babies, we are already attracted to "non-natural" colors and visual effects, like primary colors, bright surfaces, etc.. So your species can be attracted to whatever colors they have access to, as long as they are not hurt by it. Even if it hurts a little, in fact. fantasies about the bright outside world can be part of it.

However, I think it would be more interesting to focus on hearing. If they have bat like ears, they will be able to feel surfaces just using echo. You can imagine highly complex caves with a variety of surfaces to create some kind of auditory hallucinations, even going as far as to play an entire minute of delicate symphony from one droplet of water, or snap of the tongue. Depending of craftig skills, you could eventualy get to the point of telling ancient stories (epic battles or discoveries, or creations) just by sitting in the right place of a specialy curved cathedral of rocks and sand and anything that will create distortion and magnifying from the origin sound.

This scultures could be either entirely dark for immersion, or painted for additional info, but then painting would affect sound propagation.

Still, I think this is an art that a cave dwelling species with spacial earing would enjoy more than we can.

For aestethics, I think will go back to visuals, as constant sound would impair their spacial senses and would be considered a nuisance pretty quickly. If it is a socially structured species, with "classic" seduction and reproduction, bright and colorfull, so you can be seen even in dimly lit environment, and seductive structures that show how big ears are, how eyes are good, and how symetric and healthy they are.

Apart from that, maybe clothes that absorb sounds would be "dark and misterious", or you can imagine clothes that also simulate health, by 'echoing like' (not looking like) good fur or good muscle.

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    $\begingroup$ Some very interesting possibilities here. They have a priestly class that resembles druids or bards. They might go on a pilgrimage to temple-like places of learning, where they learn history, science, and magic. Perhaps there would be all sorts of architectural marvels there. I like your cathedral idea. It could be a hallway with chambers, representing various historical events that evoke different sensations auditorily, visually and tactility. Perhaps they would use resonant meditation chambers like some Buddhist temples. I would not be surprised if theater was a major part of their culture. $\endgroup$ – Redbud201 May 29 at 20:22

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