Sympoietic Mycology

Digital album / NT 122

Includes download in MP3 / OGG / FLAC format.

Album on cassette / NTCS 122

Includes download in MP3 / OGG / FLAC format.
  • 1. Fruiting
  • 2. Phototropic Response
  • 3. Pinning
  • 4. Misting 1
  • 5. Misting 2
  • 6. Quiet Thrum
  • 7. Proximity to a Human Hand
  • 8. Zero Red One One One One One
  • 9. Evidence of Growth

Mushrooms are a fascinating organism. Recent research goes so far as to contend that mushrooms have their own “language,” built from voltage spikes sent through the underground rhizomatic network that connects them. According to researcher Andrew Adamatzky, this language comprises at least 50 “words” or repeatable patterns. By directly applying the voltage of mushroom communication to synthesizers, the mushrooms “communicate” through electricity and sound - creating a series of dynamic yet oddly soothing pieces of music. Eryk Salvaggio strives to make us hear the inner language of fungi as it interacts with the world. “This project created an electrical ecosystem. ‘Sound’ is just what happened afterward”, he says.

Salvaggio borrows his project’s title from feminist scholar Donna Haraway’s term “worlding”, which emphasizes the ongoing relationships between occupants of a co-created world, rather than focusing on its individual pieces. Salvaggio refers to Worlding as a collaboration between human, synthesizer, and mushroom. The album’s subtitle refers to another of Haraway’s terms, “Sympoiesis”, which means “making-with”. A mushroom weaves its way into the circuitry of a synthesizer, engaging in a balance of cooperation and competition to produce music.

Worlding’s nine tracks represent as many different musical ways to treat the mushroom’s unpredictable inputs, built from raw outputs of these mushroom-machine collaborations. Opening track “Fruiting” weaves an insistent melody with surprisingly percussive events. “Pinning” taps the mushroom’s electrical impulses to trigger glorious arpeggiators and launches the whole track into space, while the somber “Zero Red One One One One One” triggers a seemingly human voice emitting one-syllable words on a bed of uncertain strings. “Ambient” as it is, Worlding finds many different ways to wander. Though made entirely out of electronic sounds, its tracks aim to convey the sound of the living.

An artist who has released electronic music since the early 2000s, Salvaggio has always been interested in the coming together of art and technology. This mushroom-inspired album stems from an art-science research project supported by The Michigan State University’s CoLab Studio, in collaboration with Claudia Westermann, Vinny Montag and researchers at the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). This larger collaborative project is set to be displayed during the upcoming 1.5° Celsius exhibit at MSU in September 2022.

  • Date available: 2022-10-21


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