Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits
Talk to Me: The Long Bean Project

Everyone wants someone to talk to. Nowadays, scientists have performed various experiments in order to verify the old assumption that talking to plants makes them grow better. We have developed an online interface which allows talking to the plants remotely via the internet

The Talk to Me project is a continuation of the social art campaign and Riga WindowFarms project which with the title Long Bean / Gara Pupa took place in summer 2010 in Riga. It was produced by RIXC in collaboration with the producers group of New Theater Institute of Latvia. There local inhabitants of Riga and Latvia were invited to grow themselves (edible) plants and to contribute them for collaborative "Riga WindowFarms" installation, which was exhibited in the windows of RIXC Media Space in September 2010.

This year (2011) we again were willing to plant and grow "long bean" plant, but this time we were inviting everyone to participate in collaborative experiment by talking to the growing plants. Talk to Me installation was commissioned for Gateways exhibition in Tallinn, KUMU museum, and it was on display from May to the end of September, 2011. During this time period more then 20 000 messages by visitors were submitted vis online interface and played back on loudspeakers for the growing plant in the exhibition space.

The online interface allows people to continue talking to the beans also after the exhibition. We are also interested, which voice the plants prefer – male or femail, and which language – so far we have developed "text to speach" interface in Latvian and English. With each next stage of the project we plan to add new language, and to find out which is one that helps for the "long bean" plants to grow better, faster and longer.

http://garapupa.info
http://rixc.lv/talktome

Bio
Rasa Smite (b. 1969, Riga, Latvia) is a new media artist, curator and network researcher. She has graduated from the Latvian Arts Academy, and holds a doctoral degree in sociology from Riga Stradiņš University (the topic of her PhD (2011) thesis was "Creative Network Communities"). Currently she is director of RIXC, and Associate professor in New Media Art, and a researcher at the Art Research Lab (MPLab) at Liepāja University.

Raitis Šmits (b. 1966, Riga, Latvia) is a new media artist and curator. He is an Assistant Professor at the Visual Communication Department at the Latvian Arts Academy, where he also is currently a PhD researcher (his PhD thesis is "Problematics of Archiving and Representing New Media Art"). He also teaches New Media Art students at Liepāja University, and is artistic director of RIXC.

Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits have been working together in new media art field since mid 90ties, when they established the E-LAB (1996) and initiated several pioneering streaming media projects, including Xchange Net Radio Network (awarded by PRIX Ars Electronica in 1998). They are also founders of the Art+Communication festival (since 1997), chief editors of the Acoustic Space publication (since 1998), and founders of RIXC, the center for new media culture in Riga (2000). Their recent co-productions include: Art and Renewable Energy Network project (since 2009), and net.art work "Talk to Me", commissioned for Gateways exhibition (KUMU museum, Tallinn, 2011).