This sourdough mush is full of microorganisms, bacteria…our shared ancestry, we came from single-cell organisms…imagine your fingers have finely tuned tiny ears on them, listen, what can you here?
[taken from the soundtrack for MUSH]
Blog # 2: Slowing to see the spider like web; a strategy for divination
MUSH is an installation, a 5 metre trough of sourdough mother (starter/ferment), and a guided meditation. It invites you to plnge your hands in and engage in interspecies communication; to dialogue with our past, present and future, connecting with unseeable and unknowable microorganisms. It proposes that we humans may have a lot to learn from these microscopic ancestors.
A couple of years ago I presented this installation at the TanzKongress19 at Hellerau in Dresden, Germany. I'd been invited by the Artistic Director of the event Meg Stuart (AD of the Dance Theatre company Damaged Goods). The themes of the congress touched on system change, interconnectivity, human need, alternative ways of knowing and of being together, magic and ecology. The scale, quality, and timing of what was on offer, including mass kickboxing by and for women and their allies, musical collaborations with plants, a 200 strong participatory trance death ritual, talks, and intimate interactive experiences, felt at the time, unparalleled. The invitation to have my work cradled in this context made me feel seen.
This 500 strong ‘happening’ was the only professional outing for the installation. Since then any attempt to share the work has sadly been crushed by Covid restrictions. At TanzKongress19 there was an invited clairvoyant and spiritual adviser, someone who in another era might have called a Witch. Her name is Ingrid. I invited her to plunge her hands into my microbial installation and tell me what she heard. She returned from the journey thanking me for the opportunity to connect with her mother through ‘The Sourdough Mother’. She suggested that whilst her hands were immersed in our shared microbial history, she was able to talk with the dead.
I later attended her talk, where she spoke of how, as a child, she lived in a quiet, slow, dream state and was able to see the weblike strands connecting all things. She articulated it as spinning energy, stringing the world together, like complex variations of a spider's yarn. She spoke of how, as she got older, it became harder to enter this state and harder still to see this connective webbing and of how she started to wonder whether this childhood vision was in fact what people referred to as god.
She then spoke about pace. The pace of thoughts. How humans think incredibly quickly, many thoughts per second flying through our overactive minds, and how trees think at a much slower pace, maybe a thought or two a week, a month, or year. And then rocks, maybe they have a thought every 10, 100, or 1000 years.
She suggested that the reason humans are attracted to nature is that it allows us to slow our minds to a pace whereupon we can again sense the strands of silk-like webbing that connect all of life. This may allow for a level of empathy and recognition of our shared quest for survival or put in other words, spiritual reunion.