We introduce you to a new series of interviews: "People and Mushrooms."
in which, like a mycelium, we will create a network of connections
between seemingly distant beings, whose presence in the Universe is important to us, and who share our passions.
I love the thread of connection that appears between people who understand and admire the phenomenon of the Kingdom of Fungi. The last time I had the opportunity to experience this feeling
in Meskalina, Poznań, during a conversation with Agnieszka Zdziabek. For some time now we both know that we operate in close areas, but so far we have not had the opportunity to create something together. So it's time to do it and share
the one with the world!
Agnieszka is an artist, photographer, graphic artist and illustrator.
What is more, she is the author of a very interesting master's thesis, devoted to the relationship between the city and the Internet, and from there
very close to the Wood Wide Web, the web structures
and the network participants, that is us humans. Mutually supportive ecosystems: virtual, biological, social, physical, technological, interacting with each other at the same time. This is what the diploma thesis
Agnieszka Zdziabek entitled: "Information - communication - space - project. A city in the era of the Internet", where in the visual part we meet with both mathematical and estetically sophisticated visualizations of maps, which are also rhizomes. It is also hard not to mention the Rhizome Theory, which Deleuze and Guattari* wrote about. In a word, it is worth getting to know more deeply. We invite you to read.
"While remaining in the area of collecting and cataloguing, by list or form, information resources, I want to reflect briefly on the methods of ordering. An example of the great ordering of things is the Linnaeus classification system, in which every organism finds its place according to biological criteria. Another method of cataloguing is the encyclopaedic collection, in which things are arranged by name. In the context of this work, however, I am interested in situations in which such methods of cataloguing are not possible, because there is no key to ordering the collection. In this case it is helpful to describe what two French philosophers, Deleuze and Guattari, called a rhizome. The description of the rhizome refers to those examples of information resources that cannot be directly catalogued, such as the visual list in a painting work that has escaped beyond the frames. However, one cannot escape the association of the character of a rhizome from this description with the character of the Internet. Once again, this draws my attention to the bionic nature of the Internet, to the features of the Internet which indicate that it is in a way a living creation. The description of a rhizome at the same time indicates other features that can be found in the Internet - the connection of each point with any other - brings to mind an infinite number of possible interactions in the Internet. „
Information - communication - space - project. City in the Internet Age
🍄 What made you love mushrooms and became an inspiration for your work?
It seems to me that mushrooms have accompanied me since my youngest childhood and I was taught not only to pick them, but also to respect and distance them. I remember the first "encounters" with mushrooms when, as a few years old, I found a giant Parasol mushroom. It was an almost magical experience for a child. As a slightly older child I was generally fascinated by botany and illustrated atlases, and then I dreamt of being a botanist who creates an extraordinary atlas with beautiful illustrations. I was brought up close to nature and this is certainly an inspiration for my work. In my drawings, nature is actually the main character, in my other artistic activities - she often creeps in as a visual narrator. I suppose it was from my childhood spent in the forest and by the lake that I took inspiration.
🍄 What is your favourite kind of fungus?
- in terms of shape and inspiration in your work
It is difficult for me to answer this question clearly by choosing one type of fungus and not ignoring others, equally important to me. I'm certainly inspired not only by the physiognomic qualities of the fungus, but also by the principles that govern this kingdom - their way of communication, spatial planning, and an unusual sensitivity to impulses, which we can only envy them. "Formally", however, I'm certainly fascinated by the mushrooms I've had the chance to find, and they're a bit different from the classic fungus. I mean here, for example, Ramaria, Cortinarius, Mucilago crustacea or Spinellus.
- from the taste of
In terms of consumption, I have an unusual fondness for Parasol mushroom and I eat them most often, and I also dry them.
🍄 Do you use any mushroom supplements?
Yeah, hedgehog icicle.
🍄 What is the significance of images of bird-mushrooms for you? As if you talked about how you came up with the idea of creating a series of beautiful illustrations.
I think the idea of creating this series has been with me for a long time, bearing in mind my family's love of mushrooming. As I have already mentioned, in my childhood I loved to read mushroom atlases, in which, apart from the richly detailed drawings, I absorbed descriptions that scrolled through Latin and traditional mushroom names. I was also a close mate with owls, crow and pigeons. At one point I decided to make drawings that literally show the relationship between the traditional name (always taken from birds) and the fungus species. At this moment my heroes are Owls, Chickens, Gooses, and Crow Ears [names in polish language]. The style of the illustrations is supposed to be slightly related to the style of atlas drawings, but also shows the bird character of the fungus. Each of them has some attribute characteristic for the species.
🍄 Paul Stamets said in one of his lectures that the Earth invented the Internet for its own benefit, to allocate resources to protect the biosphere. Indeed, many aspects of human life have been transferred to the web, so we don't need so much material and energy. In addition, if we could obtain energy from, for example, antimatter or something infinite with simple tools, we could indeed protect the biosphere enormously. What do you think is the ecological impact of the internet on the city?
In my thesis, I considered the theory I formulated that the city centre is where the most intense interaction takes place. Has the internet taken over this urban function nowadays? I considered the aspects of information and communication in relation to the city and then to the Internet. From my analysis, which was a study of social media concerning culture and the local community in Poznań, I managed to read the hottest "Internet centres" of the city. As a result of this analysis, one can be tempted to try to predict the future of the cities, on the basis of the activity in the network, e.g. located in a given district, and observe if it has any correlation with urban development.
The ecological aspect, on the other hand, is very close to these considerations, with the observation of systems and relations between living organisms and their living environment. Population ecology, if it can be related to the population of people living in cities, will find a niche for itself here.
🍄 What was the biggest discovery for you while working on your diploma?
The biggest discovery and the subject of my deepest fascination was the theoretical research on organising information and then transferring the conclusions to urban issues. The first important text for me in this work was "Cataloguing Madness" by Umberto Eco, who helped me understand the city as a collection of information, i.e. ordered data. Then I referred what I learned to Deleuze and Guattari's theory of rhizome and rhizome, from which I derived analogies of the city and rhizome, the fact that they are made up of points and lines, they grow in many directions. The networked nature of both has become the key to guiding the practical part of my degree piece, that is, the map of the "Internet centres" of the city, the map of the digital city.
🍄 I was interested in the question posed in your thesis: Is the network able to take over (or has it already done so?) the features and functions of the city? So I started to wonder how you think a city connected to the World Wide Web and Wood Wide Web could look like? How do you think the city could function in such version?
A city connected to the World Wide Web is a vision of Smart Cities that is no longer distant. Not to say that we are already living connected to the World Wide Web. Access points are everywhere, not only those that guarantee the city's infrastructure, but also those that almost everyone carries in their phones. It seems to me that the urban space of the city is turning into something like a set design for an online game. For example, when I'm in a big city for the first time, I use Google Maps to get to my destination. I experienced this when I was first alone in Vienna for a few days, and then when I moved to Hamburg. You follow the blue dot on the map. Moving around the city was no different from a virtual walk on a smartphone screen, and it even became one inseparable act. Another aspect is connecting to the architecture network, and I associate it much more with Wood Wide Web. In my work I have analysed a particular type of buildings, which are buildings-messages, which can be a carrier of imposed content, e.g. thanks to displays, or be built in such a way that all their form carries specific information.
These buildings are on the World Wide Web and in not virtual reality. The question is a little bit inverted - I was wondering if the network will take over the features of the city, and the question is what city will be connected to the network. I think it will be faster, it will be saturated with information, but not everything that will be a part of the city will be in a non-virtual reality, because it is possible that more and more services will stay in VR.
🍄 Will mushrooms save the world?
Yes, they are able to do so, but their vision of the world may be very different from ours.
* Rhizome Theory http://techsty.art.pl/hipertekst/teoria/postmodernizm/klacze.htm?fbclid=IwAR1_tArMmOcLh4nNWmdnSdxxImCTjHQd2ZKG--0i5xvmjHV7oMXrNcdMmo8
For more, come to Agnieszka's insta--> https://www.instagram.com/agazdziabek/