This year's RIXC festival edition featured an opening of the Atmospheric Forest exhibition by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits. It is going to be on view from October 9 to December 19.
Atmospheric Forest is an immersive installation that visualizes the complex relations between a forest, climate change and the atmosphere. It is an outcome of a three-year artistic research project on Pfynwald, an ancient Alpine coniferous forest.
Trees emit large amounts of volatile organic compounds that we can sense as a habitual scent of the forest. Scientists have long known about the link between the fragrant forest. While some believe that the strong smell of a pine forest indicates that climate change can be limited, others suggest that the volatile emissions could make global warming worse.
Atmospheric Forest reveals patterns of this complexity by visualizing the data of volatile emissions and resin pressure in pine trees. To create the Atmospheric Forest, the scientific laser scanner was used to scan the Pfynwald in point cloud. The viewer can navigate through the emitting trees of virtual forest, observe the forest from the bottom up, and follow the path through the tree trunk to get far up above the emitting forest, experiencing the interactions between the terrestrial ecosystems and atmosphere.
The resin, responsible for the pine scent, was harvested during the various field trips to Pfynwald and transformed into the volatile liquid of turpentine and colophon sculpture, accompanying VR installation.
Rasa Šmite and Raitis Šmits (Latvia) are internationally acknowledged artists and cultural innovators, who work at the intersection of art, science and emerging media; in their artistic practice, Smite and Smits work together as an artist duo. They are co-founders of RIXC Center for New Media Culture in Riga (Latvia) and curators of the annual RIXC Art and Science festival. They also work as researchers and educators in Latvia, Europe and the US. Their more recent artworks address the relationship between nature and technology, people and plants, such as Talk to Me and Biotricity series, which have been exhibited in HeK in Basel, Ars Electronica in Linz, National Science and Technology Museum in Stockholm, Van Abbe Museum for Modern and Contemporary Arts in Eindhoven, ZKM in Karlsruhe, MIT Center for Theoretical Physics in Boston, Venice Architecture Biennial. Smite & Smits have received The Excellence in Culture Award (2017) from Latvian Ministry of Culture. Their artwork “Swamp Radio. Fluctuations of Microworlds” (2018) was nominated for Purvitis Prize in Visual Arts of Latvia in 2019; “Atmospheric Forest” was nominated for Purvitis Prize in 2020 and 2021.
Atmospheric Forest is part of the research project Ecodata–Ecomedia–Ecoaesthetics (2017-2020) led by Yvonne Volkart, hosted by The Institute of Aesthetic Practice and Theory, HGK FHNW, Basel, Switzerland. / Research Support: Swiss National Science Foundation / Scientific Partners and Data: WSL – Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Switzerland: Andreas Rigling, Arthur Gessler, Christian Ginzler, and WSL visiting researcher – Kaisa Rissanen. / VR programming: Kristaps Biters / RIXC
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