Physarum Polycephalum play

Researchers: Sarah Choukah (Comms PhD candidate, Université de Montréal), WhiteFeather Hunter (Spec Life BioLab Techinician, MFA 2016), Tristan Matheson (MA Ed Tech student, Concordia University)

Project scope: Physarum Polycephalum, a mysterious species also known as slime mold, is a bright yellow, intelligent microorganism found in nature that can be easily cultured and cared for.

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Each of the researchers has a different but complementary interest in working with slime mold. WhiteFeather is interested in slime mold’s ability to consume and retain external colour from food sources, and it’s potential use as a textile dye or paint – this research is developed in collaboration with Tristan Matheson. Tristan Matheson has also utilized his work in Ed Tech to develop learning materials for outreach activities using slime mold. Additionally, WhiteFeather is experimenting with conductive thread in slime mold cultures to imagine a live switch for wearable e-textiles. Sarah Choukah works with slime mold as a resistor/ conductor to build living wires for electronic circuitry, as part of her PhD research.

 

Activities/ Publications:

  • Bioart Fun with Physarum workshop – This workshop featured an introduction to bioart using the unicellular organism Physarum polycephalum. Participants played with basic electronic circuits using the live and colourful Physarum. They also built mazes and documented Physarum’s behaviors as part of a collective bioart project.
  • Vernissage and exhibition of Media arts for families 2017

  • Bioart Fun with Physarum workshop (upcoming September 2017) – Back by popular demand, this workshop is offered by special request for a private high school class of 60 students.
  • Upcoming 2018: Choukah, Sarah with WhiteFeather Hunter and Tristan Matheson. Pathfinding Between Practice and Theory: What can Bioart and Media Arts Learn from Slime Mold (and vice versa)? book chapter in Slime mould in arts and architecture edited by Adam Adamatzky (World Scientific)

Partners for these research activities with Physarum polycephalum include:

  • Studio XX through their Media Art for Families program – Inspired by the “Coding goûters,” the Medias Arts for Families project brings together children and their parents to have fun to program and design artworks in electronic arts with artists. Together with the invited artist(s), they learn and share their knowledge based on a principles of equality in participation.
  • Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec (through Studio XX)
  • City of Montreal (through Studio XX)

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