MycoMythologies is a series of ontogenetic mythological stories, biotechnological machines, video essay and on_/off_line performative storytelling workshops. The series researches the multilayered question of how mushrooms can help humans think about the possibilities of entangled life in capitalist ruins. As a speculative artistic research, MycoMythologies thinks not only about how fungal underground networks can inform humans, but also about how technologies tend to define the teachings that humans receive.
“MycoMythological machines were assembled to tap into the underground flow while the nutrients poured out of it, along with the numerous stories. No matter where the flow was sampled, there the stories were, flowing out of the mycelium network together with the much needed nutrients. There were many whispers, among which some stories seemed the same as they trickled out of the hyphae in chunks and pieces. They were almost like a repetitive mantra that loops and loops even though they were never completely the same. There were always glitches and differences as if they had been assembled again and again like some sort of a distant memory of the murmuring machine.”
The microscopic node in the World Networks Entanglement freshly programmed with the Fungal Network Traits Protocol* experienced a peculiar overflow of sonic data. The sound in the laboratory filled the space with one single sentence computed by the Entanglement and repeatedly uttered by the machine. As more and more data poured into the machine, the more intense and distinct the voices became:
»We can’t return to normal because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.«
The feeling was that of an emergency; numerous languages and voices were finally detected circulating in the Flow. From the depths of the previously mute and unheard underground, the machine clearly conveyed messages that their world was broken. The rupture was clearly deep and entangled as it spanned several planes that had kept the voices invisible and quiet for too long.
The conclusion was that the machine got overloaded while computing the immensity of the breach across the feedback looping entanglements of the planetary networks. In order for the World Networks Entanglement to compute itself again with the included newly detected voices, it was necessary to implement The Word for World Is Flow Protocol, which allowed for the permeability of categories such as human, gender, nature, individual, history, culture, society. Serious work needs to be done.
*The Fungal Network Traits Protocol of unevenly distributed particles was developed in collaboration with fungal agents, which performed their decision-making processes. The dataset of decisions was then fed into the protocol, which became known as the Protocol of the Forgotten.
MycoMythologies: Rupture is a biomimetic myco-centric network with central myco-scopic node composed of microscope and computer vision program tracing nutrient movement in the micrographic videos of mycelium flows imaged by Toby Kiers Lab at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Microscope screens the mycelium networks in the Petri dish while a computer vision program with each detection of the particle movement in the hyphae triggers sounds and voices of the underground. Simultaneously, the movement of the particles causes changes on the looping myth-making screens. However since myco-centric network has its own agency it sends the signals to the screens unpredictabiliy. As mycelium so does the network through its own series of decisions decide which myths on the screens will receive the signal of change.
Prototype draft for acquiring a permit for a new node in the World Networks Entanglement:
“The infrastructural node in the World Networks Entanglement provides an epigenetic environment for the Hericium erinaceus mushroom. As an offering human healer patternist, Hericium donated her blood, sweat and tears to braid contamination, dosing it slowly into a fungal environment. Not to shock, but nurture, negotiate and form xeno-patterns in the central pattern of the Entanglement Flow. Contamination always eludes control and so does the node in question; however, there is a wish to include and collaborate. A wish that was built in the node to produce cartographies of contamination collaboration with an integrated mapping device: collecting micrographs of contamination, charting maps and building an ever evolving and transforming Atlas of Collaborative Contamination. All this to outline relations, to allow the stories of multiplicities to emerge, to develop caring methods of connecting and entangling, to finally be able to navigate patterns of intra- and interspecies complexities.”
Once the draft was scribbled Hericium started to wonder how we will ever learn to be many and diverse. Who knows. For her it was time to start prototyping the machine for cartographies of fungi-human ecologies. Permit or no permit, she sensed in the Flow that the world had a need.
MycoMythologies:Patterning is an installation which captures growing fungal landscape which is contaminated by the human microbiome – bacteria, fungi and archaea derived from the blood, sweat and tears of the artist – with a microscope and analyzed by computer vision, rendered on three screens where they are mapped, sonified and collected into a database. The installation questions if we can see ourselves as entangled rather than sovereign, reflecting on contamination as productive exchange between different life forms.
MycoMythologies: Storytelling Circle
MycoMythologies: Storytelling Circle is an on/off_line performative workshop by Saša Spačal and Kaitlin Bryson that evokes and employs the mycelial mind of the attendants through nodes of knowledge gathering practices and embodied mycology. Participants create their own speculative stories and reflect on some previously generated, while learning about World Networks Entanglement also known as planetary infrastructures with focus on fungal underground networks. Throughout the workshop various modes of learning and storytelling are performed, employed and learned: How to be a Mushroom Hunter soundwalk, Spores and Networks guided meditation, Mycelial Storytelling Objects, Carrier Bag Weaving tutorial, Mycelial Maps ... Each workshop is a node in the mycelial web: networking, expedition, gathering story spores, making maps, storytelling and spawn.
Video essay MycoMythologies: Infrastructure by Saša Spačal and Kaitlin Bryson is a polyphonic meditation on human-fungi encounters. Visual and sonic contemplation with voices of World Networks Entanglement echoing thoughts on networks, multispecies infrastructures, symbiosis, cartography, compost, roots, mythologies, fungi, lichens, interspecies violence, blood, sweat and tears, inter- and intra- species touch, human vision and blindness, breathing, spores, artificial intelligence and mycelial storytelling ...