Project

CHARGED INTER-SPECIES - SPACE

Exploiting PP


In my experience with PP I noticed right from the beginning the development of categories within me which apply rather to human experience than the observation of other organisms. Now, I’m trying to figure out what these categories are & why this perception moves me so much. I noticed e.g. a strong feeling of hierarchy or my interpretation of PP’s behavior as intelligent behavior. Both are very personal & human perspectives, I guess.

Rather than distancing my self from these categories I would like to create an environment of enforced, catalyzed categories such as hierarchy, sympathy or self-reflection. The idea is to ‘ideologically exploit’ PP, deprive it from it’s true existence and misuse it for a personal experience/perception. This perception is not the center of the artwork, the essence is the space between the observer and PP, which the observer charges with ideology. To clarify this concept of ‘charged - inter-species - space’ I want to physicalize this space and maybe use projection, as it would be a fitting metaphor, sound or, to make use of previous artistic projects with PP, morse code or other communicating systems with microorganisms to phrase the ‘categories’.


As well, sign language & braille are possible, since, technically, PP is deaf respectively blind.

First thoughts on a technical implementation:

The project will consist of a sequence of different arrangements, each including one ‘category’. I want to arrange PP per category in a certain context. Therefore, I am doing some research on so-called ‘natural-history dioramas’ which are imitations of natural habitats. There is a great possibility of distorting context, I think. Prof. Christiane Voss, who teaches media-philosophy at the Bauhaus-University did some work regarding ‘dioramas’, I accidentally attended a lecture of hers once & I contacted her for some material.


To get a static diorama I will try to ‘freeze’ PP in epoxy resin. Therefore, I will pour a first layer of resin in a figure and when this layer is hardened, let PP grow on it. Then I will pour the next layers. I still need to figure out how PP reacts to the resin. In the next step, there could be a tube, through which the recipient observes PP. This tube will be the manifested ‘charged - inter-species - space’ and will contain some further elements of the respective category.

Next steps:

  • PP & epoxy resin experiments
  • Defining categories
  • Deriving ideas for a context (diorama) & the ‘…-space’

Initial ideas

WHO AM I?

This question will probably be part of this entire project. I will try to always reflect it for the duration of it, since it is part of the relation between me and physarum. I never really had a strong connection to biology or interest in in non-human lifeforms until I started to realize, that there exists a world of sophisticated balance and perfection beyond our human perception, not visible to our plain view. My background consists of sound and music, as well as a big interest in connections and interfaces between humans and technology. Maybe, this second aspect will help me connecting to physarum.

WHY PHYSARUM?

It is quite a little wonder, physarum polycefallum. I am not really interested in its behavior in a scientific sense, since I cannot distribute any meaningful content to contemporary discussions on the organism. I am simply no biologist. My strength has always been rather the reflection of myself aswell as the interpretation of different belief systems in different environments, I guess. Yet, I am trying to adapt biological methods & considerations since it is necessary for the interactions between me and physarum. Physarum is an organism that revokes our human understanding of intelligence, but we still interpret it as such behavior. There, for me lies the first and maybe most important question regarding my own role in this project: what am I projecting on this organism? What belief system am I trapped in?

METHOD:

I will try to capture the scientific methods I am applying to experiment with the procedures of maintaining physarum alive by photographies and thoughts on the process. But the main purpose of this continuous update should be questions and, maybe, answers regarding my relation to physarum.

A collection of questions and impressions:

  • What is hierarchy? And how is it established? How did we, humans establish it?
  • Where is the place for humans in biodiversity // food chain // symbiosis?
  • Why do we assign human intelligence to any other behavior?
  • Can we even imagine non-human intelligence?
  • How should we treat microbiological life?
  • Could I develop an environment where PP can make its own decisions or be free of my choices?
  • What could its perception of time look like? Is there maybe an interesting perspective hidden?
  • What makes it so successful in an evolutionary sense? Will it outlive me?
  • How has my iconography of individuality changed by the characteristics of PP? What would individuality mean to PP?

Process

Week 1-4:

So far, my biggest problem has been the development of spores & mold. Therefore, I try to maintain a rhythm of subculturing every three days by taking a small sample of PP and ‘planting’ it onto a new petri dish.

The cooking of the medium has gone well so far. I realized that a thicker basis of gelatin medium will lead to a faster growing of the organism, since it is better hydrated. I made a little experiment with food coloring the medium which had no detectable impact on PP. Additionally I feed it daily with a moderate amount of oat (about 1g for the ∅ 60mm & about 3g for the ∅ 150mm dishes on the first day, increasing it at 50% every following day).

I keep it in a drawer away from any daylight, since I want to maintain a certrain state of PP’s life cylcle.

I figured out, that I am not really interested in any popular experiments like letting PP solving a ‘maze’. To me it arouses the semblance of a circus performance or letting it perform a stunt, but I feel that PP is not responsible for my entertainment. I do not want to criticize such experiments in general, but it rather has a significance for biological research than my artistic approach. So far, I try to keep it in the state in which it is best to work with until I can grasp a hint of a concept.