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GROW OP 2019 created & produced by the Gladstone Hotel

Primordia: non-human collaboration through bio-sonification

Jury's Choice Award: Primordia

The Jury's Choice Award is presented for exceptional work that most strongly responds to the curatorial concept of contemplating energy in all of its multiplicity of forms, associations, and interpretations.

Exhibition Dates: April 17 – 21, 2019

Grow Op at the Gladstone Hotel celebrates its seventh year with an exhibition of art, design, and ideas across a range of disciplines. The 2019 edition considers ENERGY; Clean energy, dirty energy, social energy, positive energy, negative energy, climate energy, embodied energy, resilient energy. Do we hoard, waste, commodify, burn it, or do we store, reuse, renew it?  How humans and other species live within and without natural systems of growth, change, abundance, scarcity, decay, and life.

Curated by Christine Leu and Alan Webb of LeuWebb Projects, with Lee Petrie, Exhibitions Director, Gladstone Hotel.

For Grow Op: ENERGY I created an immersive underground environment. Visitors could enter the world of Mycelium and interact with it sonically. Over a two month period, I formed and grew a large-scale mycelium sculpture. The living mycelium sculpture served as the centrepiece within the installation.

Primordia here referring to part of the mushroom life cycle. 
The walls within the space were covered with black scrim, for the floor we brought in 8, 25-litre bags of topsoil. I sprayed the topsoil with hydrogen peroxide and diatomaceous earth to keep the possibility of fungus flies to a minimum.
Fibre optic lighting was hung from the ceiling to represent mycelium growth and networks. A pedestal was placed within this space for the living Mycelium sculpture to stand upon.

Once on the pedestal, the sculpture stood a little over 2 meters in height.  6 sets of electrodes were placed upon the Mycelium sculpture to read its bio-data and translate that information to MIDI which in-turn powered 3 analogue synthesizers. Copper electrode pads were placed on the top of the pedestal running into the mycelium. Visitors could place their hands on the copper and have their bio-data translated to MIDI along with the Mycelium.
Visitors started referring to the installation as a Shrine or Temple to Mycelium.
Entering the room visitors were first introduced to mycelium's ability to bio-remediate toxins from the environment. Jars containing Ganoderma lucidum with aniline dye and PVC, Pleurotus ostreatus and motor oil were on display. Within less than 2 days the Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushrooms) completely absorbed the motor oil and started thriving off of the hydro-carbons.

A very profound moment for me was when I’d taken a break from sitting the installation and returned to find a women sobbing, wishing to meet me. She told me that she had never considered the sentience of anything like a plant before. A fantastic conversation took place. 


People found a connection with themselves, with each other, and for some, a paradigm shift occurred. 

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Thank you to InterAccess and The Ontario Arts Council for Exhibition Assistance

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