Kerosine chronicle. Fungus
Kerosine chronicle. Fungus
Kerosene Fungus lives in fuel tanks and feeds on kerosene and diesel. Successfully and abundantly reproducing fungus can lead to the airplane malfunction causing it to crush; it is also able to cause serious damage of the oil infrastructure.
Ascomycetae Amorphotheca resinae Parbery (1969) grows on substrates rich in hydrocarbons (creosote, oil, kerosene). In 1960s it was considered one of the most prevalent species feeding on fuel. The fungus turned out to be not only accompanying humans throughout our technological revolutions, but being heavily invested in them, since its evolutionary strategy is based on using the consequences of the anthropocene as an advantage over other bio-agents.
During the course of its metabolism the fungus changes smell of the fuel in which it has settled. For us this effect became a starting point for modelling the situation, in which chemical interaction of the fungus and machine creates an opportunity for establishing chemical communication between robots.
In this case the kerosine is not only used as a nutritional source for fungus, but also as an additional fuel source for the machine.
Each of the four robots is equipped with kerosine tank containing kerosine fungus. The tank’s data (PH-meters, gas analysis, kerosene level) affects robot’s choice of strategy and mode of communication it selects for interacting with others in the group. The modes are: 1. kerosine preservation (escape), active search for fresh kerosine (hunt), 2. exploration (promenade), 3. kerosine excess (altruism), 4. passive wait for changes.
Fungi-machines use smell to find each other, from time to time they begin to move chaotically or swirl in place to find direction with the highest concentration of kerosine fumes. In the occasion of two robots with matching strategies meeting (e.g. one is prepared to give out of altruism, or submit, another – to take kerosine), one robot can joint with another to take its kerosine. If the jointing was successful, the fuel burner inside one of the robots might light up to charge the heat generator on top of the fungus-machine. Possibility of strategy alignment or disalignment complicates communication in the group, makes it unpredictable, thus allowing to view fungus-machines’ action on the field as a sort of social interaction.
We see the necessity in developing communication between bio- and cyber-organisms: olfaction remains our last sensory system which still holds some advantage over artificial sensory systems. If our cognitive abilities would prove to be insufficient for the proper communication with the machine – our sense of smell might turn out to be our evolutionary chance. But at the moment it might work as one of the ways to establish horizontal relationships between living and non-living.
Kerosine chronicles. Fungus
4 robots, Metal, plastic, synthetic resin, electronic components, electronic mechanical components, computer, glass, gas analyzers, sensors, engines, kerosene burners, kerosene, Amorphotheca resinae, thermogenerators
The project was implemented for the exhibition “HYDRA: New Media Art in the Context of Eco-Anxiety” in Sevcable Port, Saint-Petersburg.
Curators: Olga Vad, Lydia Gumenyuk, Curatorial agency NADO
Scientific consultant: Anastasia Krivushina, PhD in bioscience
Programming: Sergey Mashkov, Vladislav Tarasenko, Ruslan Orekhov, Arseny Yarmolinsky.
Technical and moral support: Gleb Andreev
Project is created in the «Biostation. Laboratory of Technological Art»
2021 / Saint-Petersburg / Sevcable Port, “HYDRA: New Media Art in the Context of Eco-Anxiety”