Interactive networked installation

Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits in collaboration with Martins Ratniks

Interactive installation Talk To Me introduces the idea of global connectivity between humans and other species. There are scientific hypotheses that communicating with plants makes them grow better. Installations online interface in combination with text to speech engine allows exhibition visitors and all online users to “talk” to the plants remotely, whereby uniting them into one network.

Video about the project

Talk To Me is an artistic inquiry into human and plant communication, exploring the relationships between nature and people, biology and technology, biological and social processes in particular. We started the Talk To Me project by asking – do plants grow better, taller and more beautiful, if people talk to them? As our interest was less biological than social, our research focused more on the communicative dimension and less on the growing aspect; we were also curious – will people be “talking” to the plants by using our own developed online interface? And people really talked to the plants and did it willingly – altogether 13 183 messages were received from visitors in the two-year period of the Talk To Me project during which the installations were exhibited in five different locations with an online interface in 3 different languages (English, German and Latvian). Such a high level of activity shows the interest in the idea to communicate with plants. But more than that, it also shows that contemporary communication tools – such as the Talk To Me online interface that is available on your personal computer or mobile phone in your pocket – may even be an encouraging facet in human-plant communication, as not everybody dares to talk to plants directly or do it publicly. At the end of project, the bean plants did grow well and even blossomed. No doubt we haven’t found all the answers, but we succeeded in raising new questions and identifying new territories to be explored. We continue collaborating with scientists, experimenting with alternative energy technology that generates electricity from dirty water and soil, and envisioning a design for a sustainable and mobile human-plant communication device and future communication systems.

Credits: RIXC – production; Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits – artistic concept, project execution; Martins Ratniks – graphical design; Davis Bojars – programming.



Exhibition Talk To Me at Akureyri Art Museum, Akureyri, Iceland, June – September 2019

Echo Chamber, Espace multimedia gantner, France, June – July 2017

Echo Chamber, Rua Red, Dublin, Ireland, June – August 2017

Echo Chamber, Lūznavas muiža, Latvia, June – August 2017

Superconduction, Riga, Latvia, November 2015

LU Botanical Garden, Riga, Latvia, July – Augusts 2012

The Center of Performing Arts "Jūras vārti", Ventspils, Latvia, June – August 2012

Gateways, House of Electronic Arts Basel, Basel, Switzerland , May – August 2012

Gateways, KUMU, Tallinn, Estonia, May – September 2011

Grow_Ability, kim?, Riga, Latvia, April – May 2011