Tosca Terán, Sara Lisa Vogl & The Mycelial Network
Symbiosis/\Dysbiosis is a fully immersive, mixed reality experience working with living mycelium biodata-sonification within a VR environment.
Point cloud data, scanned from Canadian coastal rainforests and Canadian Boreal Forests make-up the VR forest environment. Projection mapped floor and wall(s) around the VR space allow visitors within the installation, outside of the VR environment, to interact with the point cloud visuals by stepping on and touching the projection-mapped surfaces. These actions send data into the VR environment depicting Human impact within the forest environment.
Living mycelium from locally cultivated fungi reacts and responds to the installation's Human presence while creating the forest’s generative soundscape. Human EEG influences the VR experience, along with tactile interfaces that are wall and floor mounted. The tactile interfaces connect to the living mycelium through proximity sensors, triggering light and vibratory motors that have been grown within the hypae. Haptic controllers and haptic vest bring touch and real-time reactions from the mycelium and forest responding to Human presence. Humans feel the fungi’s connections within the virtual forest environment.
Boreal forests, or taiga, represent the largest terrestrial biome. Forests occupy approximately one-third of Earth's land area, account for over two-thirds of the leaf area of land plants and contain about 70% of carbon present in living things yet despite this significance, humankind continue to have an unbalanced, parasitic like relationship to this important biome.
Ultimately, it is up to the Humans and how they impact this delicate biome that determines how the non-humans react and respond. Whether the non-Humans choose to pair for Symbiosis, which can lead to evolution or Dysbiosis, which can end in a COVID-19 scenario, or worse.
The bio-sonification modules work with electrodes or touch plates/surface. The electrodes can be placed into soil, clipped to a plant, stuck (w/bio-medical pads) to your arm, etc.
Regarding the mycelium/fungi. NonHumans are the point of the entire work = How humans impact the shared environment (generally, unaware or don’t care). Humans are invasive species. Some more so than others. The initial project concept was to show (to an extent) impact through touch - micro biome and what is around us, our trace/impact (what we/humans leave behind). That, I thought would be amazing, to show how -we- are holobionts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holobiont). & Fungi are every where. Fungi influence the weather, their networks are vast and some are super ancient (example: Armillaria ostoyae)
The bio-sonification modules are a means/tool for us (Unity, Ableton, etc) to show fungi communications: reactions +/- to human presence within the vital Boreal forest biome.
Key elements here: Canadian Boreal forest & coastal rainforest. But really the Boreal which circles the planet (less so now). Fungi communication within the forest, fungi recognizing human presence and responding to that- Symbiosis/\Dysbiosis. Point clouds appear to be a way to show biomes beautifully.
Creating a multi-sensory experience Fungi creating the forest soundscape. Fungi triggering fx, motors that dispense scent, haptic motors for feeling (Bhaptic vest?). The reactive floor showing the mycelial networks under foot. In place of AR- we can work with projection mapped surfaces.
Eeg & touch (proximity sensors): The concept here was how would the humans feel within the VR forest, seeing their microbiome, seeing/feeling/hearing/potentially smelling the fungi reacting to their presence. This also adds to the ‘each experience is different’ scenario. How can the EEG data be used to influence visitor experience and how (if at all) does it influence the mycelium network. Proximity sensors trigger light (LEDs) and vibration motors grown within living mycelium. This acts as a form of touch. The fungi reacts and sends data back into the VR environment. We are interpreting the Symbiosis (positive) and Dysbiosis (negative) here.
Point clouds: Creating an experience where people can walk within and around these point clouds and interact with them. Sara and I have discussed building aspects where people are taken on the journey (like many VR experiences) while the visitor stands or sits while aspects play out around them then small objects or areas become accessible.
Point cloud scanned hands> could we use scanned hands for our Controllers? My thoughts here are that point cloud hands can appear to be microbial.