top of page
IMG_6231 2.HEIC

Forest UnderSound

Tosca Terán (CA)


Forest UnderSound is an invitation to consider the sentience of fungi. Sentience is the ability to perceive one’s environment, and experience sensations such as pain and suffering, or pleasure and comfort. Many countries acknowledge animal sentience, and animal’s ability to experience pain, fear, distress, hunger, and thirst, in their laws, which are designed to protect animals from such suffering. In 1997, the European Union agreed to recognize animals as sentient beings under European law.

Animals and fungi share a common ancestor and branched away from plants at some point aproximately 1.1 billion years ago. It was only later that animals and fungi separated on the genealogical tree of life, making fungi more closely related to humans than plants.

For Forest UnderSound, mycelium from Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi/Lingzhi) and Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushrooms), along with mycorrhizal fungi growing and connecting within the roots of various plants has been cultivated.

Both the plant roots and mycelium have electrodes connected to them that send biodata into purpose-built circuits, which detect micro-fluctuations in conductivity between 1,000-100,000 of a second. This biodata is then translated in realtime to control analog and digital synthesizers. Empirically, when fully connected and music is being generated, Mycelium consistently generates periodic patterns that are both enigmatic but also very musical. For reasons that I do not fully understand, Mycelium reacts to the proximity of some people more than others. Growing more frenetic or more harmonic or completely silent, when humans are present.

For the first iteration of Forest UnderSound fungi and plants will be allowed to grow over approximately 7 months, creating a real-time fungi forest soundscape. The soundscape will change over the seasons as the fungi and plants grow. During the 2021 Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall this soundscape will be recorded. Recordings take place on each of the 4 equinoxes. 


With support from: The Ontario Arts Council • A Space Gallery, Toronto • The Museum,  Kitchener Ontario

Forest UnderSound

January 23 - October 10, 2021

The Museum, Kitchener, Ontario

Installation for SONICA21


Experience Forest UnderSound during Ars Electronica at The Sound Park – in the Kepler Garden at Johannes Kepler University Linz •

On Saturday Sep 11, 10:00 am - 9:00 pm the Sound Park will be devoted to a selection of sound works by the winners of the Prix Ars Electronica Digital Musics. Visitors can immerse themselves in topoi created by a variety of sound artists and spatialized by a six-channel sound system. 

Forest UnderSound = Ways of Knowing



Forest UnderSound came about through an invitation to create an installation for SONICA 2021 at The Museum, Kitchener, Ontario. Throughout four seasons, a generative soundscape emerged from living mycelium growing and expanding onsite while connected to a custom-built synthesizer. Over the pandemic, restrictions enabled focussed studies and hyphal tendrils into XR installations, bringing fungal mycelium biodata into VR experiences and in-person media installations.

March 2023 curator Yasmin Canvin reached out regarding a site-specific exhibition in Brixworth Country Park with Fermynwoods Contemporary Art. Ways of Knowing is part of Fermynwoods' two-year programme addressing Xylophobia, an irrational fear of forests and woodlands. She was specifically interested in my piece, Forest UnderSound. 



Forest UnderSound could not be more fitting a work. 


Many people fear fungi, and perhaps some fears are warranted, from tales of negative hallucinations to deadly poisonous Death Angels. Mysterious mycelium branches through the Earth, undersea and over (under) land, with species that live on and within us, some friendly and some not so much. To those who believe we humans are a form of fungi. 




Fermynwoods gallery director James Steventon suggested connecting with Astrid Bjorkland and Marie-Chantal Hamrock of SUBTERRA.

Thinking of the words Sub and Terra, a soundscape, soundwalk/dive into Forest UnderSound emerged.

Pleurotus ostreatus is connected to the Myco-synth, sending its pulses through patch cables, building a drone. Perhaps a bit ominous with a dash of science fiction, this soundscape's foundation draws from our fungal mycelial communication research, which began with biodata-sonification. Working with Sam Cusumano's open-source schematic and coding enabled us to work with the bio-electrical activity of living mycelium. Through MIDI and western chromatic scales, choosing a synthetic voice through a digital audio workstation such as Ableton Live, and when out in the field collecting raw biodata streams to later bring through Animoog or Reason, our installations worked towards opening imaginations to consider fungal communications within forest networks. Years passed with deeper explorations, branching out from MIDI to work with control voltages felt more logical, as my partner and I are deeply addicted to Eurorack synthesis and building our custom sounds. Working with Instruo modular and Spad Electronics expanded upon the Electricity for Progress module, allowing control voltages to thread throughout what I affectionately refer to as our Myco-Synth. 

I continue exploring the legitimacy of fungal mycelium sentience through a collaboration with aerospace engineer Dr. Valeria La Saponara. 

Fungi frequencies. Mycelial communication. 


What if non-Indigenous people accept that they are part of a greater, collective living ecological "interbeing" that includes all life on our planet? -Dr. Daniel Benor 


Thank you, Spencer Graham for providing the excellent field recording that was interpolated into this work. 


𓇚 Forest UnderSound re-visited for Ways of knowing • Aug 19-Oct 31, 2023 •  Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Northamptonshire UK


Further details can be found here:

Fermynwoods Podcast 22 with Tosca Terán 

Sapphire Goss video response. 


Find Fermynwoods Contemporary Art Podcasts on Spotify:


Apple Podcast listeners:

bottom of page