Mycology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of fungi. This project explores the concept of identification in a collaborative context composed by multiple fungi investigations. I’ve always been fascinated by the intricacies of the natural world regarding its scientific and aesthetic qualities. The early periods of my project involved experimenting with various processes and methods of print. These practices included the use of ink, watercolour and stitch.
Following this I directed a digital investigation by capturing the closer characteristics of a traditional Portobello mushroom using macro photography. This gave me an engaging insight into their complex natural beauty. Further studies lead me to the discovery of ‘spore printing’. This process involves the transfer of microscopic particles from the inner surface of the mushroom to any compatible surface such as paper, plastic or glass. This method is used to categorise different types of mushrooms based on the colour of the spores produced by the fungal fruit body. The composition formed by each of these prints is entirely unique.
Multiple factors can influence the quality of the print including the time allowed for it to develop, the concentration of moisture in the air and the temperature of the environment of which the motif is conducted. Another fundamental factor contributing to the aesthetic value is the age of the mushroom. As the fungi body begins to decay and deteriorate it slowly begins to produce fewer spores as it transforms into a denatured state.
Each visible detail of the print is made up of mounds of microscopic spores. An average mushroom will drop approximately 16 billion spores in its lifetime. It feels incredible to appreciate how these minuscule particles can cooperate in such a way to construct some of nature’s most exquisite hidden imagery.
As I explored this use of natural pigments further I began to consider the surfaces in which I was printing onto. Through this I developed the concept of working with and creating my own handmade paper using organic colourings. To produce the paper, I used blends of dried leaves, flower petals and other natural material. Once these pieces had been created I carried out a series of spore prints over the top. These mycological investigations collaborate and work jointly to fashion a body of research into the scientific study of fungi.
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