I am back from a week of intense work and discussion in Riga, where I was given the chance to “double-dip” in two joint events: “Textures,” the sixth European meeting of the society for literature, science and the arts, as well as Art + Communication, the 12th International Festival of New Media Culture. The latter featured a series of exhibitions and performances organized by RIXC (the Center for New Media Culture) and taking place at Kim? at Spikeri (beautiful neighborhood just off the railway station and the massive city market), as well as the RIXC space itself ( performances ). the series of events culminated in the major exhibition “Transbiotics. Temporal Stability Points,” which focused on the “emerging biotechnologies as means for artistic expression” and challenged the ever-changing notion of “materiality” in the arts. A series of other events enriched the already busy schedule of events: an installation at the of Latvian National library by Brigita Ozolins and the exhibition “Patterns of Relationships by Latvian artist Gundega Strautmane. Finally, Symbiotica and the department of biology at the university of Latvia offered a one day Tissue culture engineering workshop.Garrett Lynch documented the whole workshop in his blog, so I won’t upload my pictures as they might be a bit redundant.
The conference program was packed with concurrent lectures and panels classified under a number of main streams, “networks of sustainability” “tissue Culture” Biopalimpsests” „Art as Research”” architextures”. While the streams overlapped (biopalimpsests was sometimes hardly distinguishable from “tissue culture”), and thus it was possible to catch a general glimpse of the themes discussed during the conference,my experience of the conference is rather partial, as I was jumping back and forth between biopalimpsests and tissue culture sections, with seldom attendance of the “arts and research” stream. Following are a few of the themes that seemed to recur across sessions, which in turn greatly resonated with the entirety of the festival and the topics explored by the exhibition.