A new partnership between art and science, merging interdisciplinary knowledges and perspectives, and shedding human-centricity to explore interspecies reciprocity and mutual endeavour.
Image - Organic Intimacy, 2023. By Bianca Tainsh
Humans have a long existing relationship with fungi, but this relationship predominantly involves providing favourable environments for fungal processes that benefit humans in functional ways. It is a partnership of practical value. The organism remains disassociated from our understanding of consciousness and intelligence.
But now our evolving technology can not only detect the complex languages and learning capabilities of non-neuronal organisms, but it is also able to create interfaces and data analysis for two-way interchange. Does this open a door to real communication with the unknowable other? And as we begin to comprehend the ethical implications of bio-tech and scientific research processes that ‘utilise’ what we are beginning to recognise as sentient organisms, how might our technology realign to decentre human enterprise and consider the experiences and aspirations of the organism.
This exploration begins with a collaboration between an artist and a mycologist. Dr Sandra Tuszynska is my research partner in this initial project that merges scientific, philosophical, and creative practice. Through our collaboration I will learn how to work with mycorrhizal fungi. These underground organisms exist in symbiotic relationships with trees and other organisms, their web-like mycelium forming a communicative, resource-sharing network. These mostly hidden entities function as agents for ecological vitality.
Sandra and I will implement scientific processes as we attempt to develop a communicative relationship between human and mycelia. But as beings situated in a culture of tech saturation and human superiority, how can we as researchers practice care and biological egalitarianism, especially considering our culture’s cynical attitude to sentience outside of human constructs. This is an artistic, scientific and spiritual journey to share over the coming months as I lose myself in an alternate world of organic realities.
This project is supported by The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) which is a partnership between the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Sunshine Coast Council through ArtsCoast to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.