Rasa Smite und Raitis Smits: „Atmospheric Forest“

Atmospheric Forest. Volatile Emissions
Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits
Video (full length ~25 min, July 2020)

Atmospheric Forest visualizes the complex relations between a forest, climate change and the atmosphere. It is a result of a three-year artistic research project on Pfynwald, an ancient Alpine coniferous forest suffering from drought due to climate change, which Swiss scientists have turned into a 'living observatory'.

Overall, the trees are not only oxygen generators, they breathe as well. Trees emit large amounts of volatile organic compounds that we can sense as a habitual scent of the forest. While some scientists believe that the strong smell of a pine forest indicates that climate change can be limited, others suggest that the volatile emissions could make global warming worse.

Predicting the effects of natural volatile emissions is much more complex than thought… Atmospheric Forest reveals patterns of this complexity by visualizing the scientific data of volatile emissions and resin pressure in pine trees during one growing season.
Uncertainty regarding the effects of volatile emissions remains. However, the visualized patterns show that with climate change we are set for a more fragrant and more "atmospheric forest" in the future.


Atmospheric Forest is based on “Ecodata–Ecomedia–Ecoaesthetics” (2017-2020) research project supported by Swiss National Foundation and co-produced by ZKM to be premiered in Critical Zones exhibition (May 22, 2020 - February 28, 2021).


Atmospheric Forest in VR/360-video online exhibition version is premiered in Critical Zones exhibition digital platform at ZKM, and will be exhibited as VR/video installation in ZKM from July, 2020.


Artists: Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits
Research: Rasa Smite / in the framework of Ecodata–Ecomedia–Ecoaesthetics (2017-2020) research project led by Yvonne Volkart, hosted by The Institute of Aesthetic Practice and Theory, HGK FHNW / Basel, Switzerland.
Scientific Partners and Data: WSL – Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research Scientific advisers and data: Andreas Rigling, Arthur Gessler, Christian Ginzler, Mauro Marty / WSL / Switzerland, Kaisa Rissanen / Helsinki University, Finland / Visiting Researcher at WSL / Switzerland
Michel Kalbermatter / VP Swiss Teleport / Signalhorn AG / Leuk-Stadt | Switzerland
Project Partner: RIXC / Riga, Latvia
VR programming: Kristaps Biters / RIXC
Sound: Raitis Smits, Ivo Taurins / RIXC
Research and Production Support: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
Production Support: Latvian State Culture Capital Foundation (SCCF),
ZKM Karlsruhe & RIXC Riga