In spring 2016, artists Raitis Smits and Rasa Smite as a part of their research travel visted the ETC Solar Park, which is located couple of kilometers outside Katrineholm. There in the Solar Park, they were meeting with the technical team working there, who were showing their innovative experiments with green energy, and also showing the pond, where they have expressed their interest to host our Pond Battery installation. They were taking some examples from the mud there, for testing the bacteria activity, and making plans for the next steps – setting up the live installation (either fall 2016, or spring 2017). In Katrineholm, they were visiting Katrineholm art gallery (Konsthall), and discussed the plans for future collaborations – maintaining a link between green technology and the arts – showing Pond Battery in their venue, and planning larger exhibition for spring 2019. Currently, they are also discussing with Stockholm Technical Museum about the possibilities of displaying the live web-cam stream from Katrineholm Solar Park in the museum's Green Room exposition next year.
Support: the research travel was supported by Nordic Culture Point Mobility grant.
The travel by artists Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits from Latvia included visiting sites and venues in Stockholm and Katrineholm, with two fold intent. The first was to continue their own artistic and scientific research project – Pond Battery (http://smitesmits.com) by developing new collaborations within the Nordic countries. The second is to enhance RIXC's Renewable Network (http://renewable.rixc.lv) initiative by establishing new Baltic-Nordic contacts in the field of art and science.
During their research travel to Sweden, artists Smite & Smits were visiting ETC Solar Park near Katrineholm, and discussed future collaboration with Katrineholm Konsthall and Stockholm Technical Museum. In a result of this research travel the following proposal for new networked art installation by artists Smite & Smits was developed, with the title and focus:
Pond Battery Network – exploring green energy science and local ecosystems from an artistic and aesthetic perspective.
Pond Battery installation will consist of outdoor microbial fuel cells (MFC) that generates electricity from the bacteria living in the mud. The real-time web-cam image stream shows six (or nine) electrodes and continues measurments from the electricity fluctuation in the pond. The bio-electricity generation process is interpreted into live sound structures, while the data from realtime observations in each location where the installation is set up, are collected and interpreted later in time-lapse video, digital prints, interactive visualizations and 3D printed objects, providing an aesthetic perspective whereby making audible and visible the invisible activity in a nature.
The future vision of developing this project also includes building the Pond Battery Network – where the connections will be made among different local and site-specific installations in different ponds, different sites, and different countries. Also, live data among the “nodes” of this network will be exchanged, analysing the monitorings of different local ecosystems and bacteria activity in the ponds.
The first Pond Battery experiments took place at the site of ETC Solar Park near Katrineholm, May 2016, which we visited with the support of Nordic Culture Point travel grant, aiming to test the site and discuss with the techical team about the installing 6 MFC's in their pond in Spring 2017.
However, we already began to work on Pond Battery Network idea already in Latvia, during the Soil Future workshop, taking place in Liepaja, November 2015, in the framework of Changing Weathers, European cooperation project event. We also continued the collaborations with Latvian scientists and engeneers later in March 2016 in Riga, at RIXC, while preparing for our Stockholm and Katrineholm research trip.
As we also have developed an idea of creating a whole network consisting of several Pond Batteries in different countries, we also used an opportunity offered by Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, and tested there our first Pond Battery – installing the 6 MFC's for a couple of weeks long in June 2016. As it worked really succesful, similar setup we are now offering for installation in Sweden – where out-door installation will be set up in Katrineholm Solar Park, whereas the live webcam stream with realtime monitoring of bacteria electricity fluctuation will be on display in Stockholm Technical Museum, (Spring 2017).
Live web-cam image stream will be also complemented by a workshop-type of setting.
As we will be collecting all the data (environmental monitoring, live electricity fluctuation, etc.) we also will be making visualizations, creating art object in 3D materials (wood), as well digital prints, and which will be showing our artistic and scientific studies on patterns of local ecosystems and green energy.
We are planning that “Pond Battery” installation will be ready for show in Stockholm Technical Museum in spring 2018, while larger solo exhibition by artists Smite & Smits will be taking place in Katrineholm Konsthall, in spring 2019:
Credits: The artwork by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits will be produced by RIXC, center for new media culture in collaboration with Solid State Physics Institute scientists of Latvian University, and ETC Solar Park in Katrineholm.
Nordic Culture Point – for research travel,
Creative Europe's Changing Weather project – for Soil Future workshop experiments
State Cultural Capital of Latvia – for artwork production.
Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits are artists, researchers and cultural innovators, working with science and emerging media technologies since mid 90s. Smite & Smits also are key founders of RIXC – Riga based center for new media culture (http://rixc.org), curators and organizers of its annual festivals (since 1996), and chief-editors of Acoustic Space publication series (http://acousticspacejournal.com). They both are holding PhD degrees, and are lecturing in various universities in Latvia and North Europe, as well as in conferences and festivals on topics of renewable energy and art, contemporary art and science, techno-ecological practices and data visualization, archiving and curating digitally-born art, and other similar topics.
Their more recent artworks include: Talk to Me – human plant communication project, exhibited in kim? Contemporary Art Center in Riga, KUMU museum in Tallinn (2011), House of Electronic Arts in Basel (2014), etc. Their work Biotricity – artwork series exploring renewable energy of local ecosystems, and a poetics of green energy, have been exhibited in Ars Electronica Center in Linz (2013-2014), Arsenals National Arts Museum in Riga (2014), Sound Forest Festival (Riga Botanical Garden, 2014), National Science and Technology Museum in Stockholm (2015), Van Abbe museum for Modern and Contemporary Arts in Eindhoven, NL (2016), D'Days - Paris Design Festival (2016), and other places.
+371 67228478 (birojs)
+371 26546776 (Rasa Šmite)