Saša Spačal, Mirjan Švagelj & Anil Podgornik
“For to connect is to affirm, and to affirm, to connect.” (John Rajchman) Myconnect is an interspecies connector that emerged as an aspiration to enable human beings to transgress their own species and connect with another at a perceptive and physiological level. By entering the installation one joins with the otherness, another multiplicity i.e. the fungal mycelium. In Myconnect the nervous system of a person and fungal mycelium are plugged into a human-interface-mycelium biofeedback loop. By entering the capsule a person is equipped with a hearbeat sensor, headphones and vibrational motors that are placed on various parts of the body. The hearbeat of a person sets off the system in motion. The signal travels through the mycelium where it is modulated in real-time. The modulated signal is transferred back to the human body via sound, light and tactile sensory impulses. This overwhelming stimuli that affect the nervous system cause an alteration of the heartbeat. With the altered hearbeat a new loop begins and the circle is closed. Symbiosis of signals begins. Myconnect is a symbiotic interspecies connector that questions the anthropocentric nature-human division. With its circuit of signals and impulses, generated and translated by biological and technological organisms, Myconnectperforms an immersive experience of symbiotic interdependence. Through this experience the technological nature-human distinction can be seen as an arbitrary definition that serves particular biopolitical interests in human society, which can then be shamelessly wrapped in an ideology of utilitarianism and may conceal excessive exploitation.
Saša Spačal is a post-media artist with a background in the humanities; she currently works at the intersection of living systems research, contemporary and sound art. Her work focuses on a post-human environment, in which humans exist and function as one of the elements in an ecosystem, and not as its sovereign. In this, the Cartesian system is abandoned and the fact accepted that the sphere of technology has expanded not only from hardware to software, but also to wetware, whence the logic of hybrid mechanical, digital, and organic functioning originates. Saša Spačal has been featured at festivals and venues such as Ars Electronica Festival, Prix Cube Exhibition, Eyebeam, Onassis Cultural Center Athens, Pixelache Festival, Cynetart Festival, ThingWorld Triennial – National Art Museum of China, Device_art Festival, Eastern Bloc Gallery, Art Laboratory Berlin, Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Kapelica Gallery, Kiblix Festival, Sonica Festival, Gallery of Contemporary Art Celje, Enter Festival, Amber Festival and elsewhere. The artist’s solo exhibition Symbiome – Economy of Symbiosis with an overview of her work was held at Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova +MSUM in 2016. For her work she has received an Honorary Mention at the Ars Electronica Prix 2015, and was nominated for the Prix Cube 2016.
Mirjan Švagelj is a doctor of biomedicine currently residing in Ljubljana and working for a biotech research and development laboratory. He finished his doctoral studies in Biomedicine at the University of Ljubljana in the field of medicinal mushrooms. Since 2012 he is part of Myconnect and Mycophone_genus project together with Saša Spačal and Anil Podgornik.
Anil Podgornik is a DIY enthusiast with a big talent for electronics, mechanics and physics. Since 2012 he has been a part of Mycophone_genus and Myconnect project.