Mind the Fungi
Art + Science Research Project
Art Laboratory Berlin, in cooperation with the Institute of Biotechnology TU Berlin, is pleased to present the Art & Science project Mind the Fungi, which is dedicated to the research of local mushrooms and current fungal biotechnology.
Mushrooms are used in biotechnology as cell factories to produce antibiotics, immunosuppressants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, antimalarials, insulin, prebiotics, pigments, organic acids, enzymes, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and more. The fungal biotechnology of the 20th century managed to establish itself as an essential platform technology for innumerable branches of industry and thus decisively shapes our daily life and our lifestyle in an invisible way.
At the moment, fungal biotechnology is undergoing a disruptive innovation process, which we want to co-design with citizen scientists in a sustainable manner. Mushrooms, which are produced on the basis of renewable vegetable raw materials in the biotechnological process, are to be converted, with far-reaching consequences, into packaging materials, building materials, and even leather.
In the project Mind the Fungi we use the interdisciplinary concept from STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Art) to expand scientific research with artistic and design-based research. The Institute of Biotechnology works with Berlin citizens, artists and designers to develop new ideas and technologies for mushroom and lichen-based materials of the future. The Artists in Residence programme brings art and design into the project as a constructive source of ideas, multipliers and communicators of scientific issues, and supports the process of sharing research processes and findings with the public.
With the expertise of applied and molecular microbiology in the field of fungal biotechnology (Prof. Meyer), bioprocess development (Prof. Neubauer) and art and science communication (Art Laboratory Berlin) the aim of the project is also to establish a new, innovative and interdisciplinary field of research at the TU Berlin, which dares right from the beginning to build a bridge in the growing Citizen Science Community in order to integrate their expertise at an early stage.
The project Mind the Fungi is a Citizen Science STEAM research project, which resulted from the cooperation of the Departments of Applied and Molecular Microbiology and Bioprocess Engineering of the TU Berlin and the art and research platform Art Laboratory Berlin. The scientific and artistic paths in the project Mind the Fungi, which we followed together with the public from 2018 to 2020, including the Art & Design Residencies, can now be traced in text and images in this book. It was intended to provide citizens with an opportunity for scientific collaboration in fungal biotechnology.Read more
Berlin-based artist Theresa Schubert explores unconventional visions of nature, technology and the self. She studied media art at the Bauhaus-University, Weimar. She combines audiovisual and hybrid media with conceptual and immersive installations or site-specific interventions that may include living organisms. Thematically her works question the relation of humans to their environment and evolvement of matter and meaning beyond the anthropos.
Fara Peluso is an artist/ designer based in Berlin working at the interconnection between design, art and science. Through a speculative design practice she wants to raise critical questions about which possible relationships between human beings and living organisms can be envisioned for near possible futures. After the successful eradication of the concept that the human being is the most important living organism on earth, she wants to contribute to cancelling the hierarchies between us and nature, to become more conscious and participative with ecological systems.
The Artist- and Design-Residencies of Mind the Fungi with artist Theresa Schubert and artist designer Fara Peluso bring in art and design as constructive sources of ideas for this research project. Schubert studied the effects of sound on fungal growth. Peluso has done research on new biomaterials on the symbiotic basis of algae and fungi. The artistic and design related works are a result of a close collaboration with both departments of TU Berlin’s Institute of Biotechnology – Prof. Vera Meyer’s department of Applied and Molecular Microbiology and Prof. Peter Neubauer’s department Bioprocess Engineering.Read more
The Walk & Talks were public events and integral parts of Mind the Fungi, to explore with citizen scientists the potential of sustainable biomaterials from fungi. Artist Theresa Schubert led the events offering diverse perspectives on the forests and their cultural meaning including performances. Together with scientists from the Institute for Biotechnology, TU Berlin, she guided the groups through Tegel forest and the forests of the Briesetal, Brandenburg in search of tree mushrooms and lichens.
As a second part Bertram Schmidt and Carsten Pohl from the Dept. of Applied and Molecular Microbiology, TU Berlin, showed the participants how to preserve the samples for further study. Participants inoculated Petri dishes with samples for cultivation. The samples are essential part of the research project’s stem collection, combining cutting edge biological research, citizen science and artistic research.Read more
Today material research is a central point in the theory and practice of designing new technologies, in cooperation with art and design. These fields are currently collaborating, merging their knowledge and practice to develop a new generation of materials, by focusing on specific characteristics, to create new environmentally friendly materials. Another approach, however, has also arisen in the last years combining making, crafting and personal fabrication of new materials through a form of Do It Yourself (DIY) biology and craftmaking. This Mind the Fungi workshop discusses and experiments with the new material driven design movement and methodology, learning how to build a new material by studying and using a living organism like mycelium.Read more
TOP Lab is happy to announce its collaboration in the project Mind the Fungi, a research project of TU Berlin, Institute for Biotechnology and Art Laboratory Berlin (2018-2020). Within the collaboration, TOP Lab will host several mushroom home-cultivation courses in spring and autumn 2019.
By taking the course, the participants will learn how to isolate and grow mushrooms for different purposes. You will learn to create and shape own mycelium based objects, such as packaging materials, furniture, building materials and even leather. Additionally, the participants will learn how to set up a culture to grow edible mushrooms.Read more
The Art & Science project Mind the Fungi is a cooperation between the Institute of Biotechnology at the TU Berlin and Art Laboratory Berlin and is dedicated to the research of local fungi and lichens. Scientists of the Department of Bioprocess Engineering will give short presentations to give an insight into the world of lichens and their potential for new natural products is presented.
Afterwards, production tools, in particular bioreactors, that are used to reproduce the lichen cultures and their valuable materials, will be presented. There is also the opportunity to have hands-on experiences with the material – even under the microscope. Using lichens from the environment, experimental methods for isolation and characterization in laboratory experiments will be shown and the morphology of the symbiosis observed under the microscope.Read more
Brochure No. 1
The Mind the Fungi Brochure No. 1 presents the project collaborators with their special interest and approach to the subject matter: TU Berlin’s Department of Applied and Molecular Microbiology, headed by Prof. Vera Meyer, is concentrating on local tree fungi in order to convert them into sustainable biomaterials, for example, for the building materials industry. TU Berlin’s Department of Bioprocess Engineering, headed by Prof. Peter Neubauer, contributes by propagating microbial cultures in closed systems, so-called bioreactors, under controlled conditions and isolating valuable substances – be it probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, biopolymers or pharmaceuticals. The art and research platform Art Laboratory Berlin, headed by and Regine Rapp and Christian de Lutz, organizes in the project Mind the Fungi numerous Citizen Science formats, curates project exhibitions and brings together artists, designers and scientists.
Brochure No. 2
The Mind the Fungi Brochure No. 2 focusses on the artist and designer of the project: Artist Theresa Schubert was excited to see how sound had an effect on mycelial growth and metabolism. From this she developed the interactive video installation Sound for Fungi. Homage to Indeterminacy that stimulates virtual fungi hyphae via a hand tracking sensor letting visitors take on the role of a sound, modulating the hyphae growth and movement. Artist designer Fara Peluso developed the hybrid installation and living sculpture Niche, which explores co-existence between fungi and algae microorganisms. Taking inspiration from symbiotic relationship between these organisms in lichens, Peluso combines nature, biotechnology and art. Her sculpture Zweisamkeit combines an oak wood topography and several layers of biomaterial representing form in metamorphosis.
Mind the Fungi is a collaboration between the TU Berlin Institute for Biotechnology and Art Laboratory Berlin, combining scientific research, citizen science and artist and designer residencies-in-lab. The project researches innovative uses for biomaterials produced from tree fungi. Researchers at TU Berlin create new materials from natural sources. How and what you grow the materials on defines its qualities. For this topic Art Laboratory Berlin brings together artists, designers, scientists and the public to share knowledge and experience new forms of creativity through exhibitions, talks and workshops. The exhibition shows how we have cultivated various tree fungi with different media (i.e. on substrate such as sawdust), and produced biomaterials with different shapes, structures and qualities.Read more