RIXC Art Science Festival 2021

Plant Senses and AI

28 July 2021

September 24, 2021. 18:00 (Riga, LV time)
Keynote Artist Talk


Of Algos, Plants and the Vegetariat

CONFRONTING VEGETAL OTHERNESS (2015-2018) and the PLANT-MACHINE (2018-ongoing) are two art-research opuses within which I examine the possibilities of post-anthropocentric relationships with plants. Oftentimes developed in interdisciplinary collaboration, the artworks are rooted in the realisation that the contemporary (bio)technological subsumption of life requires ever-adapting modes of social and political engagement. Underpinned by (bio)informatics, the algorithmically-enhanced form of biopolitics decodes people in fragmented contexts of connections and dependencies, and which uncannily resembles the traditional understanding of plants. In Western thought, plants are conceived of as beings simple enough to be discerned, fully comprehended and subsequently controlled/managed. In the presented series of artworks I insist on intensifying the relationship between information technology and plants, identifying in it two critical features of the current situation: the urgency to reconstruct our relationship to plants, and the ontological flattening in which plants and the statistical human essentially become equal. Despite questioning the use and power of technology and its tools, I refuse to critique from a safe distance, instead experimenting with appropriation or subversion. In the context of the artworks, bodies and data become the raw material for non-utilitarian, speculative representations of plant life in the sphere of information.

Špela Petrič is a Ljubljana and Amsterdam based new media artist who has been trained in the natural sciences and holds a PhD in biology, currently working as a researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her artistic practice combines the natural sciences, wet biomedia practices, performance, and critically examines the limits of anthropocentrism via multi-species endeavours. She envisions artistic experiments that enact strange relations to reveal the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of our (bio)technological societies. Petrič received several awards, such as the White Aphroid for outstanding artistic achievement (Slovenia), the Bioart and Design Award (Netherlands), and an Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica (Austria).