Chaos Fungorum an Exhibition and a Special Nuit Blanche Event

Chaos Fungorum an Exhibition and a Special Nuit Blanche Event

September 26 – October 7, 2018

in 1747, Carl Linnaeus, known as the “father of taxonomy”, observed that the seeds of fungus moved in water like fish until “ a law of nature thus far unheard of and surpassing all human understanding..,” they changed back to plant in their adult life. He proceeded to include fungi in the new genus of “Chaos”. But why delimiting fungi within categories and boundaries when it is exactly their fluidity that makes them so interesting?
Chaos Fungorum draws on the particular position occupied by fungi and other hybrid organisms: neither plant nor animal, fungi extend across, and can entertain, communications and collaborations between animal, human and industrial realms.

Mixing different artistic practices and media, the artists featured in this exhibition seek to move beyond rigid comprehensions of the living by working with, rather than merely shaping, sculpting and manipulating plants, microorganisms and fungi. Letting the non-human speak is to move away from an anthropocentric approach to the world: it not only opens to new rewarding artistic practices, but it also fosters new ideas of sustainable coexistence, new unusual life collaborations and adaptations, and new forms of communications and languages.

Robyn Crouch • Mellissa Fisher • Shavon Madden
Tracy Maurice • Tosca Teran • Alexis Williams

Special Guest
WhiteFeather Hunter

Special Nuit Blanche Opening Reception
September 29
6:00 – 9:00 pm

6:30pm: Artsci Salon introduction with Roberta Buiani and Stephen Morris
rethinking categories and the “non-human” in art and science
Followed by artist remarks.
Scientists from the University of Toronto will act as respondent.

9:30pm onward: Tosca Teran & Andrei Gravelle of Nanotopia
Midnight Mushroom music live performance

This Special program is co-presented by The Baba Yaga Collective and ArtSci Salon. For more information contact

 The Artists

WhiteFeather Hunter is a Canadian artist/researcher, educator, consultant and writer currently based in Quebec. WhiteFeather has been professionally engaged in a craft-based (bio)art practice for over 18 years, via an ongoing material investigation of the functional, aesthetic and technological potential of bodily materials. Her works coalesce various media approaches, such as textile methods, biology, storytelling (video, audio and text), performance, public intervention, digital + web-based installations and DIY electronics. WhiteFeather holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fibres and Material Practices from Concordia University and is Principal Investigator and Technician of the Speculative Life BioLab at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University and Artist-in-Residence at Sporobole centre en art actuel/Université de Sherbrooke with collaborator, Dr Denis Groleau, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in
Microorganisms and Industrial Processes.

WhiteFeather Hunter, Carrying Ixodes, 2018
Microbial cellulose-based bioplastic, waxed linen
Carrying Ixodes explores the possible interspecies interaction of the Lyme-disease carrying deer tick, Ixodes scapularis with the bacterium, Acetobacter xylinum, that produces SCOBY cellulose. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by the infected tick when it bites by burrowing its head into the skin of its host. What happens if the two species of bacteria meet? What would the relationship between Acetobacter xylinum and Borrelia burgdorferi be? Would it be a relationship of resistance or of compatibility? The speculative representation of the human-scale bioplastic skin purse embedded with burrowing ticks points to the status of carrier and the weight of the burden. What kinds of skin might resist the tick and its infection? Could the SCOBY cellulose bioplastic, with its acid producing capabilities, interfere with the spread of Borrelia burgdorferi?

Robyn Crouch The symbolic imagery that comes through Robyn’s work invites one’s gaze inward to the cellular realms. There, one discovers playful depictions of chemical processes; the unseen lattice upon which our macrocosmic world is constructed. Technological advancements create windows into this molecular realm, and human consciousness acts as the interface between the seen and the unseen worlds. In her functional ceramic work, the influence of Chinese and Japanese tea ceremony encourages contemplation and appreciation of a quiet moment. The viewer-participant can lose their train of thought while meandering through geometry and biota, connected by strands of double-helical DNA. A flash of recognition, a momentary mirror.

Robyn Crouch, Noble Hyphae 2018
Textile, fibre-optic
Voices in the dark, members in the club of Information Incarnate. It’s a game of telephone through animate filaments. Noble Hyphae: Nutrition highway. Mineral-and sugar-exchange Facilitators. Destroying to create anew. Producers of the Ground of Being. Soil-makers. Tree-eaters, Tree-feeders. The fruiting bodies, our first clue, Inviting us near with glamorous fingers. “Come closer,” they whisper. “Dig deeper. We are all connected,” They say. Listen closely. You can hear them; With your eyes; With your Heart. Dendritic Dimorphic Telo Asco Basidio Ana Conidium Chlamydo Odium Pycino. Fungi. Mold. Yeast. MUSHROOM

Shavon Madden is currently residing in Edinburgh pursuing her MFA. Shavon is a Canadian artist, specializing in sculptural, performance and installation based work exploring the social injustices inflicted on the environment and its creatures. Her work focuses on challenging social-environmental and political ethics, through the embodied experience and feelings of self. She graduated from the University of Toronto Specializing in Art and Art History, along with studies in Environmental Science. Shavon has had works shown at Shelly Peterson, the Burlington Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Mississauga, among many others.

Shavon Madden, Thirst 2.0
This work challenges the notion of how algae affect our water, which could easily go forgotten or unnoticed without my intervention. With this work, I have created algae by using fertilizer and tap water, which turns the water into its blue-green state. This work questions the current state of the natural world, turning the idea of “green” on its head. Green, when it comes to green-blue algae blooms, are toxic plagues on our water systems that threaten our Great Lakes.

Mellissa Fisher is a British Bio Artist based in Margate; Mellissa’s practice combines art with microbiology; her interests lie in the interrelationships between illustration, sculpture and living organisms. Mellissa’s research is heavily based on the connections between nature and the self, posing questions to an audience regarding their relationship with their bodies as well as their link to nature. Mellissa’s practice has developed through creating bacterial sculptures of her own body, into an exploration of mycology by growing mushrooms on sculptures of the human form, researching the intelligent organism, Physarum polycephalum, to represent the idea that our bodies are an ecosystem, using the body as a landscape for growing and hosting different organisms. Mellissa’s most recent research has been exploring the use of staining botanical cells by making her own natural stains with dye-producing plants as well as exploring the internal structures of her body with MRI scans and Pillcam technologies.

Tracy Maurice is a multidisciplinary artist who works across platforms in art, photography and film. Her practice is a research-based, project to project approach that embraces analogue techniques inspired by early cinema special effects, science, nature, and dance. Tracy often uses a black ground or dark field (in the case of microscopy) to create images that aim to redefine ‘darkness’ as something transcendent and connected to nature. She worked as the Creative Director for the band Arcade Fire, creating artwork, music videos and live experiential content for the albums Funeral and Neon Bible. Her background in music has lead to continue to frequently collaborate with musicians. Her most recent project, Preservation is presented in four forms: an audiovisual live performance, a short film, a record, and an artists’ book.
Preservation is a collaboration between artist/filmmaker Tracy Maurice and drummer/composer Tommy Crane that immerses the viewer in the mysteries of the natural world. In her experimental film and photography, Maurice creates a world of impressionistic vignettes using dance and microscopy to investigate themes of connection, transformation, and reoccurring patterns found in nature. Drawing from Crane’s background in jazz and improvisational music, the original score mirrors the film, using analogue synthesizers and sampling to create dynamic, ambient soundscapes that centre around live drumming. She will be installing a special sneak peek of her new book and music.
The project will be released in its entirety in 2019.

Tosca Teran aka Nanotopia, is a Toronto based multidisciplinary artist. Born in San Francisco, California, Tosca relocated to Canada in 2001. Working with metals, computer coding, and animation since the mid-eighties, Tosca was introduced to glass as an artistic medium in 2004. Through developing bodies of work incorporating metal, glass, and electronics, Tosca has been awarded scholarships at The Corning Museum of Glass, Pilchuck Glass School and The Penland School of Crafts. Her work has been featured at SOFA New York, Culture Canada, Metalsmith Magazine, The Toronto Design Exchange, and the Memphis Metal Museum. Most recently, Tosca has been awarded residencies at Gullkistan Centre for Creativity, Nes artist residency Iceland, The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists and the Ayatana SciArt Research Program in Ottawa. Tosca founded nanopod: Hybrid Studio maker space in 2005. Continually exploring new materials and tools, Tosca started collaborating artistically with Algae, Physarum polycephalum, and Mycelium in 2016, translating biodata from non-human organisms into music.

Tosca Teran, Primordia, 2018
Ganoderma lingzhi, Pleurotus djamor, Hericium erinaceus, hemp, kenaf, organic wheat flour, potato starch, agar.
I view my research as a collaborative effort with the non-Human entities I touch, caress, grow. Having ‘minds’ of their own, my current work explores sculpting forms with living mycelium. The sculptures grow over weeks into what I view as a visual representation of the life/death cycle. Primordia suggest large-scale insects and animals, perhaps in a state of death yet, the mycelium itself is alive and growing. With electrodes placed onto the Mycelium bodies, electrical impulses are picked-up and sent through bio-sonification modules that translate the bio-data to midi. I take these midi signals into analogue and digital synthesizers and collaborate musically with the mycelium. Empirically, when fully connected and music is being generated, Mycelium seems to consistently generate periodic patterns that are both enigmatic but also very musical to my ear. Mycelium also seems to be particularly sensitive to the presence of people. For reasons that I do not fully understand, the Mycelium react to the proximity of some people more than others. Anthropomorphizing the Mycelium by creating the Primordia structures, will visitors be attracted or repulsed and in turn, how will the Mycelium respond to the humans viewing them?

Alexis Williams, Madam Applanatum, 2018
Ganoderma applanatum fruiting bodies and gold foil.
Alexis Williams is a Canadian research artist working with natural materials and electronics. She runs the Ayatana Artists’ Research Program that facilitates artists’ study of nature through science and other nonnormal points of view. Her art practice is informed by her study of roadkill lepidoptery, sky gazing, rural exploration and most passionately: mycology. Mycology is the study of mushrooms. Mycophilia is the love of them. Alexis has had the pleasure to have observed thousands of species of wild mushrooms around the world. She uses the act of exploring the forest as a pilgrimage to unveil truths about biology and our place within the ecology of the earth. As a mycological artist, she aims to make visible glorious fungal organisms and to encourage appreciation of their integral connections between all living things. She is interested in developing new ways of delivering mycological knowledge and rethinking how science can be expressed through art. Her mycophiliac practice has led to the development of a large series of prints made with mushroom spores, guided forest walks that teach wild mushroom appreciation to artists and a smartphone app: The Mushroom Oracle that delivers motivational advice alongside biology lessons.
She continues to write creative nonfiction that showcases sublime fungal forces.

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