Hybrid Art


Auszeichnung - Award of Distinction

Phil Ross (US)


Cyberarts 2013 - International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica 2013

In the early 1990s I began growing a series of sculptural artworks using living fungus as an artistic material. These artworks were created by infusing live fungal cells into a pulverized-cellulose-based medium (sawdust). The sawdust serves as both food and framework for the organism to grow on, and in about a week this aggregate solidifies as a result of the fungi’s natural tendency to join together smaller pieces of its tissue into a larger constituent whole. Like plaster, fungal tissue will take on the form of any container it is molded within, and once dried out it becomes a lightweight and strong material. While incredibly durable, the material can readily be broken down through benign organic processes and incorporated back into the world. In addition to being an interesting material with which to grow artwork, fungi have the potential to replace many materials that are currently made using petroleum-based products. 

Over the years I have experimented with this fungal material to grow a diverse range of objects, and in 2009 I received a commission from the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf to grow a two-cubic-meter teahouse for their EatArt exhibition. The architectural folly presented in the museum was a demonstration of how fungi might be used as a renewable building resource, and was the proof of concept toward the ambition of growing a much larger structure in the same manner. Since the EatArt exhibition I have continued my material tests and experiments and in this past year have created a series of locally grown organic furniture here in San Francisco to demonstrate how this material might be used in a range of creative applications. 

Lead Engineer: Michael Sgambellone