Biotricity sound art mix on-air at Kunstradio – Radiokunst, Ö1

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“Biotricity” sound art mix was broadcasted on-air on Austrian radio Ö1 on Sunday, 30. November 2014, KUNSTRADIO – RADIOKUNST programme, 23:03 – 23:59. It was included in the programme “Kunst Fields. Wild Ontologies in the Service of Activating History“, curated by Armin Medosch, part 2, which was reflecting the FIELDS exhibition ( ideas and artworks.
– “Biotricity” sound art mix by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits, using algorithmic sonification environment designed by Voldemars Johansons. – Kuns Fields programme, part 2.

BIOTRICITY by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits / RIXC

Networked sound & energy installation
Authors: Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits / RIXC in collaboration with sound artist and composer Voldemars Johansons, and biologist Arturs Gruduls / LU University.

Biotricity sonifies the process of generating electricity from bacteria living in pond and lake, or in common, everyday waste water. The microbial fuel cells is the next-generation bio-technology that converts chemical energy to electrical energy by using microorganisms – bacteria found in the dirty water. Someday, this technology could be used to upgrade waste treatment facilities into power plants producing renewable energy. The networked sound & bio-electrical installation consists of a “bacteria fuel” cell network altogether creating a mini bacteria-power station. Continuous measurements deliver audible and visible impressions of this form of electricity generation by micro-organisms, and of its fluctuations. Thus the “bacteria fuel” process is interpreted in video and sound structures providing an aesthetic perspective on the interaction between nature and technology, biologic systems and electronic networks, biology and computing.

The new version of Biotricity installation was exhibited in the FIELDS exhibition in Riga. It consisted of a double cell “bacteria battery”, live stereo-sound that sonifies fluctuation of bacteria’s generated electricity, and video, made from the electronic microscope images showing bacteria environment. The image stream simultaneously with the sound created real-time visualizations of bacteria activity.

Biotricity sound art piece for Kunst Fields programme is created by Raitis Smits and Rasa Smite. It is based on recordings that use algorithmic sonification environment designed by Voldemars Johansons. The fluctuating voltage values are used as control parameters for sound synthesis. The generated soundfield represents the current state of the bacteria colony. Over time, it gradually evolves as the state of the colony changes. The Biotricity Kunst Fields mix interprets 3 different stages of the bacteria environment. The first, on the very beginning, when two newly built cells just begin electricity generation process and together make 0.6 volts. The second, when the bacteria are acclimated to their new environment and keep working with maximum power, each cell producing now 0.7 volts. And the third stage – about 3 month later, when the bacteria are becoming less active.

Currently, Rasa and Raitis are experimenting with the out-door version of Biotricity project. With a title “Pond Battery”, this installation is set-up as a long-term art and science collaboration in the pond of Botanical Garden of Latvian University in Riga. Live webcam from the pond is showing online realtime images and measurements – how much voltage each of the cells every minute is producing. “Pond Battery” will be monitored throughout the winter, all data will be recorded for producing new artworks of the Biotricity project.
– Biotricity (Fields Exhibition, Arsenals Exhibition Hall, Latvian National Arts Museum, Riga, May-August 2014) – Pond Battery (ongoing)