[-empyre-] And one more: Welcome to Ben Kinsley

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Wed Nov 29 12:21:42 AEDT 2017

Thank you, Ben. This is a great, mysterious post. Keep on sending them.


On Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 4:15 PM, Mez Breeze <netwurker at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi All,
> Lurking away on the fringes, on the lip-edge of human disturbances, to
> find this post. Thank you Ben for an amazing, and affirming post.
> Yours in the Mycelium,
> Mez
> --
> mezbreezedesign.com
> On Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 11:47 AM, Ben Kinsley <benjamin.kinsley at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Hello all,
>> I've been following along with the past month's discussions, waiting for
>> my chance to talk about mushrooms. If anyone knows me personally, this
>> won't come as much of a surprise... I'm always finding ways to lead
>> conversations towards fungi ;) I've become quite obsessed with the mushroom
>> world over the past few years. This all began in upstate NY, in the
>> Adirondacks, where my wife and I go each summer. In the Adirondacks,
>> there's a tradition to collect an "Artist Conk" fungus (Ganoderma
>> applanatum) on hikes, and make a commemorative etching onto its surface,
>> writing the date, place, names of participants, sometimes drawings of
>> memorable sights, and put these on a shelf in your cabin. Our neighbor has
>> a whole wall full of these, and we discovered 2 in our cabin dating from
>> 1935 and 1937. So we began taking up this folk tradition, and quite quickly
>> began to encounter so many different kinds of mushrooms in the forests. In
>> our need to know more about how to accurately identify "Artist conks"
>> (look-alike species don't hold a etching permanently like Ganoderma
>> applanatum), we joined the New York Mycological Society in NYC where we
>> lived from 2013-2017. As it turns out, the New York Mycological Society was
>> co-founded by John Cage, who was an avid mushroom hunter and renowned
>> mycologist in his own right. In fact, he was perhaps as experimental in his
>> approach to mycology as he was with his music, and we know of a few more
>> choice edible species due to his (sometimes nearly deadly) experiments with
>> mycophagy (the practice of eating fungi -especially mushrooms collected in
>> the wild). Cage once explained his dual-obsessions by pointing out that
>> "music" is next to "mushroom" in most dictionaries, however after spending
>> most of my free time since 2013 foraging for mushrooms, I understand the
>> kinship between his interest in silence and mushrooms -- both require deep
>> and slow observation, and you begin to notice so many things that were once
>> hidden in plain sight. In fact, the first time we went foraging with the
>> NYMS, I couldn't find a thing. Then, after adjusting to the process of
>> looking, mushrooms were all around me! We came home from Central Park with
>> a basket full of wild edibles, and cooked a delicious brunch. From this
>> point onward I was hooked.
>> I bring up mushrooms for a few reasons:
>> Perhaps foremost, is the relatively new knowledge we have about the
>> mycoremediation possibilities with a variety of fungi. Oyster mushrooms,
>> for instance, have been proven to be able to clean up oil spills (as well
>> as retain their nutritional edibility!).
>>  http://www.fungi.com/blog/items/the-petroleum-problem.html
>> Certain mushrooms are considered to be hyper-accumulators of heavy
>> metals. These mushrooms should not be eaten, but can be collected, thus
>> picking the heavy metals from the soil of radioactive sites.
>> https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/using-fungi-remediat
>> e-radiation-fukushima
>> Certain species of mushrooms are highly medicinal. Turkey Tail, Enoki,
>> Maitake, Reishi, and Chaga have proven anti-caner and immune-enhancing
>> effects. Shitake has antiviral and cholesterol-reducing effects. Lion's
>> Mane is believed to stimulate nerve growth. Cordyceps are known to improve
>> respiratory health and increase oxygen uptake, among other properties (It
>> has been recommended to me to take cordyceps to help with elevation
>> sickness, as I adjust to the Colorado elevation). There is also active
>> research being done with Bird's Nest fungi and its possible effects to
>> fight pancreatic cancer.
>> https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/mushrooms-fo
>> r-good-health/
>> There is research being done (again) with psilocybin being administered
>> to terminal-cancer patients in an effort to relieve anxiety and
>> "existential distress."
>> https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/trip-treatment
>> Newly published research on cordycepts have shown that when they infect
>> an ant, the fungus actually infiltrates and surrounds muscle fibers
>> throughout the ant’s body, and takes over all functions *except for* the
>> brain - essentially puppeteering the ant! (It was previously thought that
>> the fungus took over the brain).
>> https://gizmodo.com/the-fungus-that-turns-ants-into-zombies-
>> is-more-diaboli-1820301538
>> Paul Stamets is a leading mycologist, and you can learn a bit more about
>> all of this here:
>> https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_c
>> an_save_the_world
>> https://soundcloud.com/publicprograms/paul-stamets
>> (and if you can deal with Joe Rogan): https://www.youtube.co
>> m/watch?v=mPqWstVnRjQ
>> I've been thinking a lot about how much of this knowledge is ancient -
>> embedded in folklore, traditional medicine, and in the culinary customs of
>> so many cultures. Ötzi, the 5000 year old Ice Man, was found carrying two
>> mushrooms - the Birch Polypore (which has antibiotic and styptic
>> properties) and a Tinder Conk (which was used as tinder and as a way to
>> transport fire, through smoldering embers). It seems that in the United
>> States, we have inherited a mycophobia (perhaps from the British?).
>> Whereas, the traditions of foraging, and using wild mushrooms for food and
>> medicine is much more alive in places like China, Japan, Russia, and
>> eastern Europe. However, the world of mushrooms is complex, and mycological
>> knowledge from North America does not necessarily translate to another
>> continent. Some of my favorite fall edible mushrooms (on the east coast)
>> are Brick Tops (Hypholoma sublateritium), but when I was living in Germany
>> recently, I learned that this same species is considered to be poisonous in
>> Europe.
>> I had another fascinating experience recently. While foraging in the
>> Adirondacks in the spring with our Finnish friend, we came across a nice
>> patch of perfect False Morels (Gyromitra esculenta). From the experts in
>> the mycological society, we know them to be deadly poisonous. From growing
>> up in Finland, our friend knows them to be the choicest of all edible
>> mushrooms (if prepared correctly by par-boiling them in an open-air kitchen
>> for a long time, and discarding the water before cooking). We had a bit of
>> a disagreement, and did a lot of research, and decided (perhaps against our
>> better judgement) to cook them, following the Finnish FDA guidelines. We
>> did so, and had one of the most delicious meals I can remember! However,
>> this was a bit of a risk, as we don't fully know if this species is
>> identical to the species that is eaten in Finland (it is one of the few
>> countries where it is legal to sell these mushrooms on the market), or if
>> the toxicity levels are different based on continent, elevation, etc. It is
>> also said that the toxins build up in your system over time, and if you eat
>> too many of these, too often, it can kill you. Friends from Finland and
>> Latvia know, from tradition, how to cook these mushrooms, and also that you
>> should not eat them very often. In fact, many times, while foraging with
>> the New York Mycological Society, amateurs visiting from other countries
>> were able to teach us, and our expert mycologist leaders, something new
>> about the edibility, use, or medicinal value of a certain mushroom species.
>> This brings me to another observation: While fungi is an entirely
>> separate kingdom from plants, mycology is a relatively young, and often
>> ignored science. Most universities do not have mycology departments, and
>> many biology departments do not offer a single mycology class. It is
>> estimated that there are around 5 million species of fungi on the planet
>> (estimated to outnumber plants by at least 6 to 1), yet only 75,000 species
>> have been scientifically identified. Fairly recently, it has been
>> discovered that 30% of healthy soil is fungal mass, and live mycelium
>> cultures have been found growing under the ocean floor. *There's so much
>> we don't know!*
>> This reminds me of a text I read in the book *A Year With Swollen
>> Appendices: Brian Eno’s Diary*. On page 357 Eno published a letter he
>> wrote to Tom Sutcliffe (in response to a text Sutcliffe wrote in response
>> to Eno's controversial "Turner Prize" speech from 1995). The portion of
>> interest to me is this:
>> "[...Morse Peckham's...] theory is that art exists to rehearse us in
>> various forms of cognitive uncertainty. He sees ‘science’ in its most
>> general sense in the same way as you described it - as an attempt to make
>> the world more comprehensible, to be able to make better generalizations
>> and predictions about things. He says that we are good at this, but it has
>> a price: we become overcertain of our generalizations and simply ignore the
>> times when they don’t apply. We lust for certainty so much that we ignore
>> that which reminds us how uncertain we are. He suggests that this is what
>> art is for: to confront us with mysteries, things that we don’t properly
>> understand, we know we don’t understand, but we nonetheless find ourselves
>> excited and stimulated by. This linkage of uncertainty with pleasure is the
>> key to his theory - a way of training ourselves to enjoy exploring, to act
>> without complete information, to improvise."
>> I think this is very much akin to the way Cage was thinking about
>> mushrooms, as well as how Anna Tsing frames her observations about
>> Matsutake mushrooms in her great book "The Mushroom at the End of the World
>> On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins." In it, she talks a lot
>> about the Matsutake growing solely in places of human disturbance... and
>> that once rural Japanese villages were abandoned for city life, the coveted
>> Matsutake mushrooms disappeared. It is often talked about, in mushroom
>> clubs, how most of the good mushrooms are found along the trails, near
>> human disturbance (and not in the middle of the forest).
>> I think this is incredibly ripe territory for creative exploration. How
>> might we use mushrooms as material and also as metaphor? Perhaps all the
>> information we need in order to de-contaminate ourselves and our planet is
>> already embedded within our folk knowledge? I plan to explore these ideas,
>> especially in collaboration with mushrooms, in future projects. I'm not
>> exactly sure how that's going to take form, however I have done a couple of
>> things recently:
>> Here's a essay I wrote on the relationship between art and mushrooms:
>> http://temporaryartreview.com/zen-of-the-woods-a-foray-into-
>> art-and-mushrooming/
>> and here's a project I did, in collaboration with Christopher Kennedy
>> (also a member of the Environmental Performance Agency), which took the
>> form of a guided walk/meditation/wander through Central Park in search of
>> fungi, stories, and sound:
>> http://benkinsley.com/myco-ramblings/
>> --
>> Ben Kinsley
>> Assistant Professor of New Media/Time-Based Art
>> Department of Visual and Performing Arts
>> University of Colorado Colorado Springs
>> www.benkinsley.com
>> www.janksarchive.org
>> On Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 2:19 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>
>> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> And one more guest for Week 4
>>> Ben Kinsley’s projects have ranged from choreographing a neighborhood
>>> intervention into Google Street View, directing surprise theatrical
>>> performances inside the homes of strangers, organizing a paranormal concert
>>> series, staging a royal protest, investigating feline utopia, collecting
>>> insult humor from around the world, and planting a buried treasure in the
>>> streets of Mexico City (yet to be found). His work has been exhibited
>>> internationally at venues such as: Queens Museum, NYC; Cleveland Museum of
>>> Art; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland; Bureau for Open Culture;
>>> Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh; Flux Space, Philadelphia; Katonah
>>> Museum of Art, NY; Green on Red Gallery, Dublin; Centro di Cultura
>>> Contemporanea Strozzina, Florence; La Galería de Comercio, Mexico City;
>>> Catalyst Arts, Belfast; and ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe. He
>>> has participated in a number of artist residency programs including:
>>> Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; Bemis Center for Contemporary
>>> Arts; Skaftfell Art Center, Iceland; Askeaton Contemporary Arts, Ireland;
>>> and Platform, Finland.
>>> Ben is an avid mushroom hunter, an amateur mycologist, and has published
>>> essays on mushrooms and art on Temporary Art Review and in the New York
>>> Mycological Society newsletter. He is an Assistant Professor of New
>>> Media/Time-Based Art at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
>>> Renate Ferro
>>> Visiting Associate Professor
>>> Director of Undergraduate Studies
>>> Department of Art
>>> Tjaden Hall 306
>>> rferro at cornell.edu
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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> --
> | mezbreezedesign.com
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