The Dow chemist who invented Styrofoam, O. Ray McIntire, made it by accident while looking for a substitute for rubber insulation. Many plastics were invented to imitate natural substances, like rubber, wood, bone, silk, hemp, or ivory.
Bayer and McIntyre’s invention, in postmodern fashion, creates natural substances that imitate plastics.
– Frazier, Ian. “Form and Fungus.” New Yorker (2013)
The sentences above is where inspired me most and made me think again about all the interesting features of fungus from a new starting point, the loop we are making on this planet.
At first, we were using natural substances in a “nature” way. Human beings made clothes, tools, houses, and etc all by organic materials. Then we gradually learnt the secret of science, inventing with more industrial material. And now we are going to wear and live in natural substances again. It’s like we are going through a huge circle. Then you start to question: Is this whole process meaningless? What are we doing differently than our ancestors thousands years ago?
Thousands years ago, what we were doing is inventing organic things in organic way. But now we are trying to grow organic things in a industrial way. Between these two steps, we were learning from nature, practicing on man-made material, then learning more. The whole process is about info, info decoding, info coding, info spreading, loss of old info and generation of new info, intentionally or accidentally.
It reminds me what John Cage said:
Before studying Zen, men are men and mountains are mountains. While studying Zen, things become confused. After studying Zen, men are men and mountains are mountains. After telling this, Dr. Suzuki. was asked, “What is the difference between before and after?” He said, “No difference, only the feet are a little bit off the ground.
The mushrooms in cave art
Then I realized that fungus actually contain so much info. The world under the ground is a huge information kingdom. The fungus has very old history. The points the readings mentioned, like how they move energy, how they create the intelligent network is all about info. When I look at those mushrooms, what fascinated me most is how hard people are trying to get them growing with “digital” industrial shapes, and how they becoming different in an “analog”organic way. It’s interesting to see how fungus are losing, filtering, and generating infos with certain given info. And every time they change their rules and you can never draw two same lines. The models Marina showed is like how the digital world and the analog world dealing with the info and how they decide to show them in their own style.
“The process involves the cultivation of emulsion consuming microbes on a visual environment created through portraits and a physical environment composed of developed film immersed in water. As the microbes consume light-sensitive chemical over the course of months, the silver halides destabilize, obfuscating the legibility of foreground, background, and scale. this creates an aesthetic of entangled creation and destruction that inevitably is ephemeral, and results in complete disintegration of the film so that it can only be delicately digitized before it is consumed. .”
“The growth of the bioluminescent mycelium makes the material a living organism again, which changes through time, only to reveal its true beautiful secret when total darkness falls…”
“It too is a discard from the silk weaving process, but it comes from the end of the process, not the beginning. Ogara choushi is the stiff shell of silk thread remaining on the bobbin after the finer silk has been used up. It is tubular in shape, about six or seven inches long, and about the thickness of a finger. For the bobbin to be rewound with fine silk thread and the weaving process begun again, it is cut off and discarded. Taking the discarded ogara choushi, Iwata bundled piecestogether (often as many of fifty or more) using French embroidery knots to make small, pedestal-sized sculptures”