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In 2019 I received an awarded 3-month residency from the Ontario Science Centre in partnership with MOCA Toronto (Museum of Contemporary Art). The residence involved a space ‘theme’ around the exhibitions at the OSC for their summer 2019 programming. The Alien Agencies Collective was formed towards being awarded this residency. As a Collective, however, the finished works/installations were not collaborative in any way. I was the sole artist fully utilizing the MOCA studio so, I turned this studio space into a mushroom laboratory! 

Initially, my proposed work centred around the Bio-Sonification of a living mycelium form. At first, this was going to be an ice crystal structure based on comets and the theory of Panspermia. This living-mycelium form would be bio-sonifying live; containing it was a significant concern, and how to mount such a piece at the Science Centre was another difficulty. Meanwhile, through my research into comet-ice and Panspermia, I landed on many space agency websites and publications mentioning fungi! The Eu space agency/Nasa and Canada have been looking into fungi as a possible housing material or insulating/filter material. Fungi is lightweight and could potentially be sent as spores to inoculate substrate on-site to grow a Moon or Mars colony. Imagining this scenario, I thought it would be interesting to see how I might develop mycelium panels to work with a geodesic form. 

MOCA and the Ontario Science Centre partnered up for a year-long pilot project, awarding artists a 550 square foot studio space on the 4th floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mycelium Martian Dome was an 8’x16’ geodesic dome grown from living mycelium. Inside, a living mycelium sculpture generates sounds (bio-sonification) translated to MIDI, creating a non-human derived soundscape. Visitors interact with the Mycelium sculpture, having their bio-data read and translated through the fungus. The European Space Agency explores whether fungi can be used to grow buildings, like labs and other facilities, in space. Nasa is also examining whether their Mars missions could develop surface structures on the planet itself. NASA is considering producing on Earth a flexible plastic shell seeded with mycelium and then activating the fungal growth once on Mars. Mycelium provides a golden example of a circular economy. Waste comes in as input for the mycelium, and the resulting material is potentially biodegradable, just like wood. Mycelium has fantastic properties. It is a great recycler, as it feeds off a substrate (like sawdust or agricultural waste) to create more material and has the potential of almost limitless growth in the right conditions. It can endure more pressure than conventional concrete without breaking, is a known insulator and fire-retardant and could even provide radiation protection on space missions.

Human exploration of space requires minimal volume and mass of materials to be transported from Earth. In situ manufacturing of fungal structures will require transporting a minimum amount of fungal spores to space to inoculate local organic material for growing bio-composites in situ.

The Mycelium Martian Dome project imagines what these structures might look like through a Science Fiction lens. How collaboration with non-human organisms could lead to humanity’s acceptance of their connection with Earth’s natural environment {Tentacular Thinking}, and each other, rather than continued destruction leading to evacuation for the 1%.

Sponsorship generously provided by:

Ecovative Design is generously providing this project GIY material towards building the Mycelium Martian Dome!

Moog Audio is generously providing all sound gear that will be used within the Mycelium Martian Dome!

 

Brothers Dressler has generously offered Nanotopia space to grow the mycelium composite panels, supply struts for the dome, and interior accessories.

 

Mushroom Guerrilla is providing insight, assistance and time towards this project time and mycelium cultivating expertise in growing mushrooms and will also be assisting me in growing the mycelium brick forms.

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