Ernst Karel (Harvard University)
Paper short abstract:
"Mycological" is an experimental nonfiction sound piece which listens in on communities engaged in naturalistic observation and analysis, from intimate encounters between amateurs on forays to mechanized processes of laboratory research.
Paper long abstract:
Mycological is a sound piece which takes as its subject certain aspects of human encounters with fungi. Fungi were once thought of as kinds of plants but are now categorized as their own kingdom, which also includes yeast and molds, and is estimated to include over five million species, only 5% of which have so far been described. Genetically more similar to animals than to plants, fungi nearly always coexist in symbiotic, mycorrhizal relationships with other life forms and thus index above all interconnectedness. Mycology is unusual among the sciences in that advances in the field have historically been made by both professionals and amateurs, and these two groups have likewise been interdependent in the creation of mycological knowledge. Amateur mycology in the US goes back to the late 1800s, when it was a subfield of amateur botany, and clubs were formed in many American cities. The Boston Mycological Club, founded in 1895, is the longest running such club, with a growing active membership. While members often join initially out of a desire to safely forage for wild mushrooms, many develop fascinations which go far beyond the edible fruiting bodies, to the ecological and morphological aspects of fungi more generally. This piece was recorded in biology labs and the herbaria at Harvard University, and during forays with the Boston Mycological Club, and listens in on processes of observation and knowledge production.
Intimacy, immanence and narratives