The Swamp Radio – sonic interventions by Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits

16th Venice Architecture Biennale

Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits. Biotricity. Swamp Radio, 2018. The Swamp School, II Giardino Bianco Art Space, the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo: Raitis Smits

Swamp Radio is a collaborative project that takes a challenge to give a voice to many those unheard, and invisible. In a time when our planet is threatened by climate change, real and hybrid wars, the swamps represent contemporary oasis. These vast wetlands with their ancient ecosystems are like time-capsules. Yet swamps are also key players for serving variety of ecological services in our modern society. Escaping from intensive agriculture, these wetlands contain enormous biodiversity. Swamps contain dormant resources and myriad other species, with whom we share life on this planet…

The Swamp Radio is initiated by RIXC artists Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits, and it is based on their long-term research on green energy, techno-ecologies and migrating cultures at RIXC, in the framework of RISK CHANGE project. During the summer 2018, the Swamp Radio is expanding in various new collaborations and series of real-time artworks, sound art transmission programs, sonic interventions and workshops.

From May 23 until May 27, the launch of the Swamp Radioproject took place during the opening week of the 16th Venice Biennale of Architecture, as a part of the Swamp School, Lithuanian pavilion. The Swamp Radio programfeatured lectures, performances, workshops, and the opening ofBiotricity Swamp Radio Laboratory(2018), the new installation by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits,which will be on view until November 25, 2018, at TheSwamp School in the II Giardino Bianco Art Space, Castello 1814 – via Garibaldi, Venezia.

During the summer 2018 the Swamp Radio activities will be expanding through the RISK CHANGE workshops and residencies organized by RIXC in Latvia, manifesting into a vibrant sound art and performance program at the RIXC Art Science Festival: GLOBAL CONTROL, taking place in Riga, September 13-16, 2018.

The Swamp School, curated by Nomeda Urboniene and Gediminas Urbonas have created a concept for “a changing, flexible, open-ended infrastructure that supports experiments in design, pedagogy and artistic intelligence”For its first individual pavilion, Lithuania takes a challenge to reflect upon The Biennale’s traditional format of “national pavilions”. By choosing the concept of Swamp, the curators and architects are emphasising the networked efforts and creating temporarily situated collaboration platform at the interstices of so many other “landed nations.” As curators argue that: “The concept of the swamp incorporates many of the battlefields of postmodernity: conditions of hybridity, the idea of “nature,” questions of human and nonhuman agency, strata of history and of the possibility of a future”. Using artistic interventions and open architectural forms the Swamp School has been created as a surroundings that support adaptation and learning to meet the demands of a changing environment. Invited designers and scholars will conduct performative lectures and lead workshops for participants and visitors to the Biennale. Altogether, more then 60 international participants – artists, architects, designers, scientists, theorists, and students will get engaged in the various activities of Swamp School. The international programme of the Swamp School will comprise three thematic chapters, the first of which is the opening programme – Swamp Radio. It will be followed by Futurity Island and Commonism.

The Swamp School, II Giardino Bianco Art Space, the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo: Rasa Smite

The Swamp Radio is the first thematic chapter, and it is on the core of the Swamp School. Theconcept was developed in a collaboration between the Swamp School curators – Nomeda Urboniene and Gediminas Urbonas, and Swamp Radio interlocutors – artists Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits, who for many years experimented with green energy technologies, setting up environmental monitoring laboratories in the swamps and other wetlands, and creating real-time sonic environments. The Swamp Radio opening week featured the opening of the Biotricity. Swamp Radio Laboratory, and creative experiments with “bacteria battery” exploring the wetlands of Venice.

Biotricity. Swamp Radio Lab, installationby Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits sonifies and visualizes the fluctuation of bacterial electricity generation process. The artists are interpreting the collected data from the environmental monitoring to reveal the invisible activity in the nature such as happening in the swamp ecosystems. This spring the artists their Biotricity research, which was initially started in the bogs of Latvia, were expanding into water reservoirs and marshlands of Boston area, together with their students from MIT ACT Sound Class performing field recordings and environmental data sonification in Fresh Pond. Biotricity. Swamp Radio installation was first shown from April 28 until May 10, at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, celebrating the 50th anniversary of CAVS (The Center for Advanced Visual Studies). Now, extended, Biotricity. Swamp Radio Laboratory installationwas set up and opened during the Swamp Radio week in Venice.

Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits. Biotricity, Swamp Radio. MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, 2018. Photo: Rasa Smite

Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits, are internationally acknowledged artists and culture innovators, who work in intersection of art, science and new technologies; they are founders of RIXC Center for New Media Culture, curators of the RIXC Art Science Festival, and internet radio pioneers – they were awarded Prix Ars Electronica in 1998 for the “Xchange” streaming audio and sound art project on the Internet. Their recent artworks “Talk to Me. Human-Plant Communication” and “Biotricity – the Poetics of Green Energy” have been shown in Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Van Abbe Contemporary Art Museum in Eindhoven, ZKM Center in Karlsruhe, National Science and Technology Museum in Stockholm. This spring they also were teaching the sound class at the MIT Art, Culture and Technology Programme. (

Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits. Pond Radio, 2016. Van Abbe Contemporary At Museum, Eindhoven (the Netherlands). Photo: RIXC

The Swamp School opening week also featured performances by internationally renowned sound artists such as – Jana Winderen (Norway),Francisco López(Spain), Sam Auinger (Austria/Germany), as well as workshops, and hybrid radio and sonic sculptures by sound artists and researchers Nicole L’Huillier(MIT Media Lab) andNicolas Kisic Aguirre (MIT ACT).

An other Swamp Radiohighlight was Ecodata symposium taking place on Saturday, May 26 closing the Swamp Radioweek. The ECODATA—ECOMEDIA—ECOAESTHETICSproject researchers from Basel Art and Design Academy FHNW were introducing their collaboration with the forest and climate change scientists in Swiss Alps. In the Valais, southwest Switzerland, is located the Pfynwald forest, which is unique for both its state of crisis caused by the local aluminum industry and by its drought intensified by climate change. It has been under close surveillance of natural-scientists for more than 25 years. In close cooperation with The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), project initiator Yvonne Volkart investigates technoscientific methods based on registering, collecting and interpreting data in the arts, and the artists-researchers Marcus Maeder, Rasa Smite and Aline Veillatdevelop aesthetic projects related to this alpine forest.

During the Swamp Radio symposium in Venice, the Ecodata team opened up a discussion – in what sense data monitoring, visualisation, sonification and critical mapping might enhance participation and raise awareness of the ecological. Participating in Ecodatadiscussion was also Marianne Burki, Head of Visual Arts at the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

The “Ecodata” project research group meets with WSL scientists during their field trip to the Pfynwald forest. Photo: Rasa Smite

Biotricity. Swamp Radio Laboratory, installation by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits was open on May 25 during the Swamp School’s official opening, in the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. The installation will be on view until November 25, 2018, in the Il Giardino Bianco Art Space, Castello 1814 – via Garibaldi, Venezia.

Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits. Biotricity. Swamp Radio, 2018. The Swamp School, II Giardino Bianco Art Space, the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo: Raitis Smits

Rasa and Raitis also curated Swamp Radio Transmission Program,which includes sound art contributions by MIT ACT Sound Class students – Chelsea Polk, Qinrui Hua, Sol Yoon, Hye Rim Shin, and Zach Jama, who interpreted environmental sounds from the Fresh Pond water reservoir near Boston. A collaborative sound composition was also contributed by Latvian new media artists from Liepaja university – Krista Dintere, Ieva Viksne, Diana Mikanova, Paula Ostupe un Kaspars Levalds, who recorded and modulated the underwater sounds in the wetlands of Liepaja’s lake.

Throughout the summer 2018 RIXC will continue the Swamp Radio research and activities, and it will manifest in the RIXC Art Science Festival: GLOBAL CONTROL, taking place in Riga,from September 13-16, 2018

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The press release was created by RIXC (, contact:

Partners: RIXC CHANGE, MIT Art, Culture and Technology program, The Institute of Aesthetic Practice and Theory at the Academy of Art and Design FHNW Base, New Media Art Programme of Liepaja University.

Support: Lithuanian National Pavilion, Swiss National Science Foundation, EU Creative Europe Programme in the framework of Risk Change Project, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.