Connected/ Breathe-In/ Becoming Probiotic/ Becoming Plastic is a new body of work for Wander_Land. This is a group exhibition with members of the Royal Society of Sculptors at Tremenheere Gallery, Cornwall, UK in 2023.
Connected are Scoby sculptures comprising plastic and probiotic microbial cellulose. The cellulose sheets are grown by fermenting “Mother” Scoby (Symbiotic Colonies Of Bacteria and Yeast) whilst brewing Kombucha (probiotic tea). The sculptures will sit on containers of ferment growing the microbial cellulose; a circular system highlighting production, application, dehydration and decomposition.
Connected explores an indeterminate intermingling of micro-plastics and microbial life across species. We absorb plastic as innocently as beneficial spores and microbes.
Are we fungal beings becoming plastic? Imagine the invisible and intuit the finest traces inhabiting our organs. The human body is smothered with bacteria. When we walk and breathe we are simultaneously replenishing and contaminating our unique microscopic ecosystems of mycelium, bacterium, yeasts; plastics.
When air is fresh we could be said to be “Taking The Airs”. This is akin to Japan’s tradition of forest bathing or “Taking The Waters”, to absorb and inhale beneficial microbes to relieve stress and promote healing. Each clean breath in green space is an opportunity to replenish. A new alignment. A bringing of the outside into the human body. Humans need reciprocal interconnections with microscopic ecosystems to determine resilience and survival.
The Connected sculptures are amorphous and evocative of human, animal and insect fragments; and microscopic forms. Bony, reminiscent of a ribcage, a pelvic girdle, a ball and socket joint and cross-species configurations; the skin translucent, taut, wrinkled, blistered and fragile. Left to the elements the microbial cellulose might organically disintegrate and disappear.
In a Utopian world we might inhale life-enhancing probiotics from health-emitting sculpture. Ideally, the cellulose will recognise and digest abundant plastic components as a nutrient source. Probiotics as plastic-eaters might be as revolutionary as fungal solutions to nuclear fall-out situations.