Matter to Matter is an interactive installation exhibited during the 2018 London Design Biennale as a part of Latvia’s year of centenary celebrations. In this installation, London-based artist and designer Arthur Analts of Variant Studio was inspired by his native city of Riga and its surrounding forests, which cover more than half of the country. Due to its proximity to the Baltic Sea, Riga has its own unique climate, with a constant humidity that often leads to condensation. In Matter to Matter, Analts recreated the transition from gas to liquid using a large green-glazed glass surface.
Arthur Analts: ‘The windows in my flat in London are quite poor quality so in early mornings they condensate. My younger brother visited me in London and, as he is a chef, he wakes up early, while I am still asleep. After a few weeks when he was back in Latvia, I had an early meeting so I had to wake up before sunrise. While I was eating breakfast I looked out of the window and saw the condensation – a drawing appeared, a smiley face – one that my brother drew when he was here. I hadn’t seen it before because during the daytime the windows weren’t dewy, but now it appeared in front of my eyes. It was magical and it triggered many emotions; my brother was no longer there but our memories were. I wanted to bring this sense of memory and longevity to the installation.’
Matter to Matter invites visitors to leave their own message or print and, after a couple of minutes, the temporal marks naturally disappear. Through this process, Analts asks us to consider the power of nature and highlights the role of designers and architects as the creators of a responsible, sustainable future where nature and its inhabitants coexist. It is a statement about culture and transience, of secret messages, and the ways in which nature can cover over human traces.
The installation is a serene, meditative space; a scent of Latvian nature, redolent of the country’s sprawling forests, and a large bench made from the typical Latvian trees add sensory elements to the continuous glass wall. At the same time, the apparent simplicity of the design conceals a sophisticated technological solution, reflecting a new, entrepreneurial generation of Latvians who combine respect for nature with a curiosity for technology. ‘With the rapid development of modern technologies in Riga,’ says Analts, ‘it is important to be aware of our impact on the natural environment, which is essential to Latvian culture.’