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Art and Mushrooms

Can mycelium help us to understand the human experience?

Around the world, fungi are inspiring artists to rethink the human experience. Mycelium – the plant-like structure in which … a web-like network that is found in every corner of nature has been proven to send and receive messages from trees, plants, and mushrooms.

Mycelium has often been used as a metaphor in the tech world and it is easy to see why. The decentralised systems of thought found in coding is easy to liken to the webs of intelligence beneath our feet.

The boundaries cross to the world of Science fiction, for example in Star Trek: Discovery (20217) a ‘spore drive’ enables the USS Discovery to travel quantum realities through a mycelial network. The ship is led by Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets, a reference to the world-leading mycologist and author of Mycelium Running (2005).

On Social media, @mycolyco hooks up oyster mushrooms and cordyceps to modular synths, which turn electrical impulses into sound.

In 2021 the exhibition, ‘Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi’ was held in Somerset House, London, showcasing the work of 40 artists, designers, and musicians; all with a love of fungi. It showcased observations, illustrations, and visual art from renowned and contemporary artists. As well as designs, architecture, and textiles in groundbreaking utilisations of mushrooms.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the inspiring artists and designers who are helping to shape and reimagine our relationship with this wonderful part of nature.

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