[-empyre-] Introduction

Christina McPhee naxsmash at gmail.com
Sat Jun 9 03:27:08 AEST 2018

Reading about Mai-ling’s architectural design work in the Liverpool
Biennial suddenly reminds me of some superb and whimsical mycelium
furniture by DEZEEN - by chance encountered at the London Design Week show
at Somerset House last September 2017:


— on the commercial end of design research ...



On Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 8:06 AM High, Kathy <highk at rpi.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear empyre Community!
> Greetings. And forgive my delayed introduction, but I have been traveling.
> Thank you Renate and Tim for your continued dedication to empyre and
> keeping it going as a community based discussion! And thank you Shu Lea for
> pulling us fungal types all together!
> By way of introduction I would like to talk about the project that I am
> currently coordinating called NATURE Lab. NATURE Lab stands for North Troy
> Art, Technology and Urban Research in Ecology. This project started about 6
> years ago in tandem with an amazing community media arts organization that
> I have been on the board of directors for the past 13 years called The
> Sanctuary for Independent Media. The Sanctuary started in an old church in
> North Central Troy, New York, about 150 miles north of New York City in a
> post-industrial city that is at the head of the Hudson River. At The
> Sanctuary, we have dedicated our energies to develop a space for
> independent voices, politics and art creation in a neighborhood that is
> economically and environmentally devastated. We have created a local
> “campus" repurposing abandoned lots and buildings (think Detroit). We have
> an ongoing presentation series of music, film and speakers, a low power FM
> radio station with local news shows, youth media and environmental
> education workshops, and have planted multiple gardens and food forests.
> Situated one block from the Hudson River, we find our location adjacent to
> brownfields, industrial waste remains and an abundance of toxic lead soil.
> NATURE Lab seeks to understand and remediate this urban landscape and
> create new resources and inspiration in the urban ecologies around us. We
> have just purchased an old building (this is among three others that we
> have) for $7500. We will develop this space into the home for NATURE Lab,
> with a community bio science lab offering ongoing workshops and eco-artist
> projects to create a sense of our surroundings and an appreciation for our
> ruderal ecologies.
> When Shu Lea came to us this past spring with the idea of joining the
> Mycelium Network Society, we jumped at the chance to do so. I have been
> close to Shu Lea since the 1980s when we were in NYC together. As my own
> media work has shifted to a focus on bioart, and ecological systems and
> concerns, the opportunity to collaborate with a rhizomic network of
> nurturing like minds seemed perfect. The work I have done with mycelium has
> been around soil remediation. Five years ago the eco-artist Oliver
> Kellhammer was in residence at NATURE Lab. Oliver is a permaculturist and
> artist who works extensively with plighted environments thinking about
> re-growth and recovery – the symbiont relationships that we all need to
> consider now. We used mycelium as an accumulator in a toxic soil bed – and
> it was truly successful. But what to do with that material in the end is a
> question we still struggle with!
> Going forward, an architect Mae-Ling Lokko, who teaches in the
> Architecture School at my university (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
> will be working with NATURE Lab to think through mycelium’s strengths. Mae
> is in UK at present for the Liverpool Biennial using mycelium for an
> exhibition at RIBA. Mae is interested in thinking about “how to develop a
> staged performance piece on the ‘natural decay’ of the mycelium structure
> that is built in Liverpool as the focus for a project for the Mycelium
> Network Society.” She has made a 20 foot tunnel with mycelium panels and is
> “ thinking about how to use this opportunity to ‘stage’ [the mycelium’s]
> graceful return into the environment.”
> I thank Shu Lea for this opportunity to join forces and share our creative
> energies! Also thank you to everyone for your wonderful posts to date.
> More to come, Kathy
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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