Jerwood Staging Series: Not I

Photo © Hydar Dewachi
Photo © Hydar Dewachi

Stories from the ever-ending world: this afternoon of talks and tastings brings together speakers from microbiology to science fiction to consider what forms of communications or communion might exist in the near future, whether among humans or beyond them. Curated by Chris Fite-Wassilak for Jerwood Staging Series.

I have contributed a menu of possible future sentient entities like evolved iron, post-human parasitical fungi, and sentient algae to help us taste and think through speculative science/fictions. Other participants include Dr Brenda Parker, Dr Joseph Cook, Matthew De Abaitua, and Dr Mark Spencer.

Bloody Mary made with help from Chef Terri Mercieca and Cocktail expert Felix Cohen.

Jerwood Space, London
15 Sep 2018, 3-5pm

Evolved Bloody Mary: Spiced vodka tomato water with evolved iron made by metal-bearing synthetic enzymes.
An iron-rich centrifuge-clarified tomato juice cocktail, infused with my nutritional sculptures.

Humans now have the ability to synthesize enzymes, nature’s chemical catalysts, that transform materials at the molecular level and speed up the reactions that make life possible. Our synthetic versions are called XNAs, and like DNA and RNA, they are capable of information storage and have the capacity for heredity and Darwinian evolution.
In a post-industrial polluted world, metal lakes will form, of iron, copper, or cadmium, carrying traces of rarer heavy metals types like ruthenium, rhodium and iridium from electronic waste. These metals can be used by our new, human-made enzymes, enabling capabilities that natural enzymes don’t have, creating conditions for unpredictable evolution of life. I have imagined future metallic corals. Could they be grown to create a new type of biologically formed electronics or biocomputers? Or perhaps grown engineered structures, evolved steel. Will we need to cook with them, use them as nutritional supplements when it’s harder to grow vegetables?

Parasitical Mushroom Broth: A clear soup with medicinal properties, made with a cordyceps, a parasitical fungus which grows from the bodies of underground ghost moth larvae.

Fungi make up perhaps 25% of the global biomass. The largest living organism on the planet is a single honey fungus in Michigan that covers nearly 40 acres, weighs more than 100 tons and is around 1,500 years old. Lingzi or Reishi mushroom, another parasitical fungus included in this broth is known traditionally as the spirit mushroom – the plant of immortality. Perhaps all these mushrooms would survive an apocalypse?

Microalgal Blue Sushi: C-phycocyanin-laced sushi balls on toasted nori, with avocado and pickled

Guests ate this light-harvesting organism, a pigment that entirely changed life on this planet: cyanobacteria, responsible for the great oxygenation event which began three billion years ago and still accounts for about 20% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. We can find it commonly as the colour of the new blue smarties.

Photos at Jerwood © Hydar Dewachi