I work with slime molds both in the lab and in the studio, the work in each domain feeding back into the other. As a professional research scientist, I work with Physarum polycephalum to explore emergent systems, chemotaxis, signaling, fluid flow and other problems. The techniques I develop to perform experiments I then use to create artwork using slime molds. In return, in the studio I learn things and observe phenomena that lead to new experimental tools and drive scientific research projects in the lab.
Marriage; Meet, Meditate, Manifest. 2016. 11” x 15”. Physarum trails, charcoal, thermite on paper.
Created for a silver wedding anniversary, two individual slime molds are each fed either aluminium or rust. As the organisms explore their surroundings, they deposit coloured trails of these materials. When they meet, they merge and mix the particles, forming thermite, which reacts at high temperatures to form pure iron. The tryptic’s progression reflects a journey of courtship and collaboration, forging a larger life from two individuals.
Tin Man I. 2016. 5.5” x 4.5”. Physarum rust trails on paper.
Tin Man II. 2016. 4.5” x 5.5”. Physarum rust trails on paper.
Slime molds are organ-less, with neither heart, brain, nor nerves, yet they achieve remarkably sophisticated goals such as solving mazes, moving over large distances, pumping ‘blood’, and reacting to light. These behaviours emerge from simpler mechanisms such as distributed light receptor proteins and the coordinated local contractions of tubes. Just like the Tin Man in Oz, slime mold doesn’t need a heart to have heart.