UN/GREEN. Naturally Artificial Intelligences

The RIXC Festival 2019 taking place from July 4 – 6, 2019, in Riga, Latvia, aims at complicating the pervasively employed notion of ‘green’ by providing a cross-disciplinary platform for discussions and artistic interventions exploring one of the most paradoxical and broadest topics of our times.

Going against the grain of dominant colour symbolism, the UN/GREEN exhibition addresses ‘green’ as percept, medium, material biological agency, semantic construct, and ideology. ‘Green’, symbolically associated with the ‘natural’ and often employed to hyper-compensate for what humans have lost, is addressed here as the most anthropocentric of all colours, in its inherent ambiguity between alleged naturalness and artificiality. We, as the human species, symbolically re-contextualize techno-scientific tools and their related metaphors to offset what we feel we are losing in the times labeled the Anthropocene.

Are we in control of ‘green’? Despite its broadly positive connotations, ‘green’ incrementally serves the uncritical desire of fetishistic and techno-romantic naturalization in order to metaphorically hyper-compensate for material systemic bio- and necro-politics, consisting of the increasing technical manipulation and exploitation of living systems, ecologies, and the biosphere at large.

On the one hand, engineers brand ‘green’ chemistry or biotechnology as ecologically benign and sustainable; on the other, climate researchers speak of the ‘greening of the earth’ to address the alarming effect of increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions and nitrogen deposition, resulting in ‘global greenness trends’ and climate change. Toxic algae blooms have done much to discredit the shallow symbol and overused association of ‘green’ with ecological sustainability, while humans are green-washing greenhouse effects away.

At the same time, the current hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life based technical fixes sparks discussions about whether the largely ambiguous notions of ‘intelligence’ and ‘artificiality’ are reserved for human cognition, action and prowess, when designing regulatory systems. Beyond anthropocentric positions and related modeling of human-like capacities and consciousness, the innate technical capacities of non-human agents play a crucial role within a larger bio-semiotic web of trans-species relationships, resulting in eco-systemic intelligence that might be addressed as ‘Naturally Artificial Intelligences.’

Art at the threshold of the techno-sciences appears to be well suited to reveal the contradictions and paradoxes, and to disentangle such allegedly linked notions as ‘aliveness’, ‘naturalness, and ‘greenness’. The media arts are especially well equipped to critique and deconstruct the entanglement between symbolic green, ontological greenness and performative greening. They stage the noxious ambivalence, perceptual shifts and multi-sensory alternatives to vision, trans-species encounters, technologized lawns, or the very ‘ungreen’ impact of digital technologies.

Despite their different media, UN/GREEN art employs ‘greenness’ with techno-scientific awareness and criticality, and addresses the philosophical and political ‘nature versus culture’ debates through the lens of a much-needed deep media analytical approach.

Exhibition Co-curators:

Rasa SMITE (LV), Raitis SMITS (LV), Jens HAUSER (FR / DE)

Exhibition Artists:

Rebekah BLESING (US), Karine BONNEVAL (FR), Adam W. BROWN (US), Bureau d'études (FR), Santa FRANCE (LV), HeHe (FR), Robert HENGEVELD (CA), Iodine Dynamics (NL), Voldemars JOHANSONS (LV), Eva-Maria LOPEZ (DE), Francisco LÓPEZ (ES), AnneMarie MAES (BE), Agnes MEYER-BRANDIS (DE), Joana MOLL (ES), Quimera Rosa (FR/AR), Jan-Peter E.R. SONNTAG (DE), Taavi SUISALU (EE), Rihards VĪTOLS (LV)