Rhiza invites you to FEEL VIA VIBRATIONS the communication between THE mycelium and oyster mushrooms.
Rhiza is inspired by the interaction within mycorrhizal networks. This underground network of fungal connections exchange not only back and forth between fungus and one plant, but also between neighbouring plants, using fungi as a thoroughfare. As the fungal threads spread, they can link up to multiple plants, creating webs known as ‘common mycorrhizal networks’. Through these networks, plants and fungus can exchange sugars, nutrients, water and more. These shared mycorrhizal networks embody the most basic principle of ecology: that of the relationship between organisms. I am intrigued in the recognition, understanding of and interaction with other species. Within this installation I am researching the possibilities in order to create an empathic relationship between humans and nature. Rhiza aimes to create an awareness of being part of a bigger network. Namely, a way for humans to be aware of the communication and sharing of information outside of the human realm. In my opinion, it is important to no longer see “the human being” as the center, but as part of a comprehensive and complex system. This system consists of humans, animals, plants, but also matter and other entities. COVID-19 has highlighted once again that we need to start living in coexistence and symbiosis with natural landscapes rather than dominating or exploiting them as is common in many western societies. What impacts nature also impacts us humans.
Rhiza is an interspecies connector that emerged as an aspiration to enable human beings to transgress their own species and connect with otherness in a multiplicity by experiencing their connectedness. The visitor will experience the so-called mycorrhiza on the level of perceptive and physiological. Mycorrhiza is a form of cohabitation between roots and fungi. In Rhiza, which means roots, the visitors will be integrated into the human-mycelium-mushroom interface by means of their own roots. Their bare feet and by means of that the biggest organ of a human to sense the outer world in other words; our skin is connected with the mycelium’s oscillations which are produced by electrical resistance. This hybrid sensation of electric resistance and pulse is then transferred back to the human body via tactile sensory impulses. Such symbiotic connections are an embodied way to integrate human beings in the network of their environment by means of their kinesthetic empathies.
Through my work I would like to offer space to reflect and experience what these kind emergent systems entail. With Rhiza I like to create space to think, feel and experience what it means to be part of the complex network we live in and that we can also listen to other systems instead of taking them over. Since the profound restrictions imposed by the pandemic on social interactions and physical movement are causing a shift to the online domain also when it comes to arts, education and research. That is precisely why I think it is necessary to start re-examining our essential relationships with the material and embodied world we live in.
Experiencing the complexity of the mycorrhizal network with their subtle blend of cooperation and conflict can be seen as a metaphor for how we relate with each other, and our own social systems. Just like human society, this society is characterised by variety, with its capacity to help and to hinder, to cooperate and to exploit. Nature is built on connections, and so are we.
RHIZA IN THE MEDIA
This project has received funding from ÖH Projektförderung.
With many thanks to: Taro, Laurent Mignonneau, Mycelium Network Society, Amir Bastan, Fabricio Lamoncha, Manuela Naveau
Photography: Miha Godec, Tom Mesic