The human body harbours 10 times more microbial cells than human cells…
That finding makes me wish I had microscopic vision and could see your microbial cloud, how our ‘clouds’ interact with each other, plants, our furry friends, dust, car exhaust… what make us Human?
With that in mind I’ve been experimenting with various flame-worked glass and lost wax cast glass structures building up three dimensional representations depicting the ‘spaces in-between’ : the microbes that surround us, co-habitat with us (are us!), yet, we cannot see.
Inspiration comes from various SEM imagery of Phytoplankton, Zooplankton, Radiolaria, Melethallia, Staphylococcaceae, and pollens. My ultimate goal is to create three dimensional, sculptural representations of our microbial cloud and create immersive installations where visitors can see, perhaps, their true nature.
I imagine these glass structures forming patterns that can be used to trigger an augmented reality layer within the installation. Allowing visitors/participants the ability to interact with [generative] the microbes in the space, each other’s microbial clouds. Perhaps see their positive and negative impact in the environment. Read more here.
During my residency with the Ayatana Infinitesimal research program I started experimenting with mushroom ink. This is still being developed due to the season ending for mushroom harvesting.
The concept is to replace the CYMK inks in an inkjet printer with inks found in nature: mushroom (Shaggy Mane aka Coprinus comatus) for black , acorn caps for yellow, cochineal for magenta, and possibly indigo for Cyan. The goal will be to successfully print out a book using these natural compounds onto special handmade papers made [from wasps nests?] and mycelium as well as more archival papers.
Currently the Mycelium experiments involve me growing Mycelium in my kitchen lab. Teehee. I have cut-up and soaked corrugated cardboard, sliced up shiitake mycelium roots, layering them between the cardboard and have placed them in a warm, dark space (kitchen cupboard). I check in on them throughout the day to see if a Mycelium network is happening.
Meanwhile, I have made moulds of my face, hands and some animals- rabbit, and I’m working on a fox and a deer. I cast these in Hydro-stone plaster to have vacuum formed negative moulds made.
Meanwhile pt 2, I have also purchased biomaterial kits from Grow.bio to experiment with their Mycelium blocks.. I still have to grow these blocks.
Grow.bio also sell forms that you can use to shape your mycelium into lamp forms or plant pots. Part of their instructional info suggests ‘cooking’ your block/form…
Because most people don’t want household objects to grow of their own accord, it’s important to halt any further growth of the mycelium by drying it out and then heating it. The combo of heating and drying removes all moisture from your project and eliminates the mycelium’s ability to continue to grow, creating a stable and inert materials. Yes, this is essentially killing the mycelium.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I do not intend to kill off the Mycelium! While a couple sculptures will under go desiccation, others will remain viable and receive mushroom spores! 🙂 Time-lapse videos coming soon.
All this has me wondering if I need to include this work in an upcoming installation taking place in May…? Oh, and let’s not forget the Scobies I am turning into leather.
Here’s MycoWorks’ 8-step instructional on how to grow Myco-Bricks.
Another project I have been working on is sound wave visualizations using glass as Chladni plates. Which, ok – be done! However I believe my approach and end result differs greatly.
Chladni plates are named for the German physicist and musician, Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni. His most important work, for which he is sometimes labeled the father of acoustics, included research on vibrating plates (and the calculation of the speed of sound for different gases).
Chladni Plates are usually thin wooden or metal plates (sprinkled with fine sand or salt) and vibrated perpendicular to their plane.
Chladni used a cello bow to excite the edge of a thin metal or wooden plate.
Today, we can use an oscillator, amplifier, and an electro-mechanical oscillator.
My Chladni plates are thin glass shapes (1.5mm to 3mm thick) and fine glass powders.
When the glass plates are vibrated the glass powder patterns can then be fused into place though kiln-forming/fusing the glass between 1200 to 1380 fahrenheit. Clear glass plates using coloured glass powders can be stacked and tack-fused together creating explosive looking musical patterns.
Update: The evening of the BIO.CHROME Collective talk on Creative explorations of the Microscopic, hosted by the ArtSci Salon at the Fields Institute at U of T, I was introduced to Professor of Geophysics, Dr Stephen Morris. Who, btw conducts his own Chladni plate experiments and has (what sounds like) a giant Chladni plate device. He’s invited me to visit his lab (which sounds as chaotic as mine) and discuss Chladni experiments, work on some together. Stephen also grows ice crystals/icicles, and conducts other curious SciArt projects of his own.