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Proposal for OKNO

Within the Version:base structure, the works at okno will be focussed on new experiments with the growing and sonification of mould. The first idea is to grow mould in the Version:base lab, try to get sound from it and visualising this sound again in a Acoustic Mirror _ Foam-like projection on the Version:base structure. The basic principle is to have a grid of square 'petri dishes' in which different cultures of mould can grow and be registered as a visual process with a webcam. A dataflow program like Pure Data will interprete these images and their constituent parts and transform them into sounds. The changes in the cultures should in that sense logically result in changes of sound.

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A Pending Construction

A pending lab/greenhouse will be installed in the middle of the stairway that leads to the both the Okno space and the Ultima Vez office (see picture_1 and _2 below). As this location is rather dark and is only illuminated short periods of time when someone passes the stairs, it is an excellent place to grow fungus and mould.

The structure will contain multiple levels (3 or 4) made of plexi, so transparency from top to bottom and vice versa can be preserved. Above the structure a light source will be installed. The multiple levels of mould/fungus growing will thus effect a play of light and shadow between the different layers.

Sound from a mould score

The construction discribed above can be seen as a crossover between a lab and a greenhouse: a lab for artistic audio-visual research which is at the same time a place for growing specific things. The setup I want to make, is based on the principle of an interaction/interchange between the organic and the synthetic. The growth of mould as an organism will influence the sound of a digital synthesizer. The heat of the computer on which the synth will run, shall be used to condition the greenhouse-part of the installation.

picture_3: A grid of petri dishes, 8 by 6 = 48 in total picture_4: A virtual division of a camera image

The Art of Growing Mould

Types and Conditions

Moulds are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. A connected network of these tubular branching hyphae has multiple, genetically identical nuclei and is considered a single organism, referred to as a colony. In contrast, fungi that grow as single cells are called yeasts. Moulds are considered to be microbes and do not form a specific taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping, but can be found in the divisions Zygomycota, Deuteromycota and Ascomycota. Some molds cause disease or food spoilage; others play an important role in biodegradation or in the production of various foods, beverages, antibiotics and enzymes.

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In labs moulds are grown in petri dishes on a agar-agar basis. Apparently this method is only usefull when one can work in a sterile environment and when one has to grow single cultures that may not be contaminated by others. As it will be extremely difficult to create this kind of conditions in my setup, I will do things differently.

Ann Van Belle - a specialist in moulds and fungi - recommended me to use a different, but slightly similar method. She proposed tu use gelatin in stead of agar-agar, to add small doses of food to it and close it up somehow to disconnect it from the air. This should prevent the culture from smelling to much and climatising the greenhouse wouldn't be necessary anymore. Depending on the kind of food that will be injected in the gelatin and the protein-carbohydrate ratio of the mixture, the colors of the mould will differ. Most expected will be white, black, green yellow and maybe some red.

First mold-growing experiments

Below some pictures of the first experiments with the growing of mold. The method I used is quite simple: I looked into the fridge, found some cooked vegatables and other stuff, I blended them and put them in the dish with hot agar-agar fluid on top. See the result of two weeks growing:

picture_5: trio of mold grown in round glass petri dishes _ from left to right: yoghurt - raisin - cherry jam

Sound Synthesis with PD

Using Pure Data I will program a modular synthesizer of which each module (oscilator, envelope, lfo, etc.) corresponds to one petri dish in the grid. The parameter names between {..} are variables and steered bij the mold, the ones between two vertical bars |..| are constants like the waveform in case of the oscilator module. The variables are the amount and the color of the mold in each petri dish.

picture_7: modular synthesizer design

Sketches for wolke

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david de buyser