Sowers: a collaborative interspecies performance by SlimeTech Lab
All that you Change,
The only lasting truth
-Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
Slime mold is a bright, vivid, living monoculture. Once mistakenly classified as a part of the fungi animal kingdom, this fascinating eukaryotic organism has the remarkable capacity to both aggregate into a multicellular structure as well as live freely as single cells. Due to its ability to grow in the pattern of nodes and branches, technologists have been using it as a tool and medium to represent a wide array of efficient systems, from the functionality of the Internet to the decision making patterns of algorithmic artificial intelligence.
In an ever-changing world, concerns about the future of Blackness become a collective urgency. Taking Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower as a seed, we ask how do we care, how do we work collectively to repair, and how do we tend to injury? In this workshop, we, as Sowers, will investigate the translations between slime mold and the network of the diaspora. Through critical theory, short readings, and discussion, we’ll consider the slime mold a framework for communicating in obfuscation as we crawl towards the future.
Together we’ll populate a web network of story-based nodes. Controlled by slime mold, the system reaches out and urges participants to respond collectively to prompts with stories of repair and connection. The stories feed an ever-growing network, allowing the slime to thrive thus revealing new hidden spaces. Throughout the weeks following, living slime mold will join the collaboration and aid us in dynamically performing this piece over time.
The SlimeTech Lab (STL) is a mobile laboratory and living system that explores new futures through science, technology, and storytelling. The STL is an art piece in itself – in roaming around New York it experiences feelings akin to the diaspora as it navigates to unpack its own narrative. As a beacon for futuristic exploration, it unfolds to teach spectators of the marvel of slime mold, revealing how this primordial organism can inform us about problem-solving, equity, and social cooperation.