Fruiting Bodies
Fruiting Bodies
Award Winner
Jessica Reisch
School Information:
Graduate Student
School of Visual Arts
New York City, New York, United States
Artwork Information:
Medium: Interactive Projections
Category: Bio Art
Year Produced: 2024

“Fruiting Bodies” explores the familiar mushroom as a window into the vast and largely invisible, networked relationships in the natural world. As an immersive, educational installation, this project combines fungi-generated audio with interactive, projected visual sequences that represent fungi’s parts and processes: mycelium (the true body of the fungus, comprised of networks of fungal threads called hyphae beneath the earth), the mushroom (the fruiting body of the fungus), and spores (fungi’s reproductive structures).

In experiencing the piece, participants listen to live audio that is generated in real-time, through a biodata sonification device made with an Arduino. This device uses the natural conductivity of live fungi via electrical currents captured through electrodes, and translates that information into MIDI data, or electronic music notes. This process turns the bio-rhythms of fungi into effectors of sound. In the piece, the live data contributes to soundscapes created with field-recordings, using hydrophones that record water-based ecologies, and geophones that record land and soil-based ecologies. These recordings were edited and mixed and then affected by the MIDI data from the live fungi through a process developed in the software Max.

The visual sequences are projected onto a large cyclorama screen. The wall-plane invites the participant to become a fruiting body of a fungus in a simulation of spores floating in the air. Simultaneously, on the ground-plane, a mycelium projection follows the participant as they walk, observing fungal hyphae grow, branch and fuse around their feet. Both sequences have been developed in the software TouchDesigner and utilize a Kinect device for interactivity.

When the visuals and audio coalesce, an environment is created that feels both ethereal and grounded–of this earth, while beyond the often limited, human conceptions of it. “Fruiting Bodies” aims to encourage a recontextualization of human-centric perspectives within a broader and more inclusive, multispecies framework.

Technical Information:

The interactive visuals in this work were created using a TouchDesigner, with data from a Kinect. The audio for this piece was generated using live fungi, through biodata sonification (a process that turns electrical currents into MIDI data) which was built using physical computing with an Arduino.

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