The Zooetics Pavilion

The Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies

XII Baltic Triennial at Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius, LT) 2015 & Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art (Krakow, PL) 2016

Emerging as a consequence of the Zooetics lectures and workshops, artists Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas created The Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies, an artwork inspired by J.G. Ballard’s fictional technologies in his collection of short stories, Vermilion Sands. The Zooetics Pavilion was exhibited in XII Baltic Triennial at Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania in 2015 and at Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, Krakow, Poland in 2016. Artifacts on view in the installations were produced as experiments for the production of mycomorphs, forms grown from mycelium mixed with other substances. Mycelium, the fungal network, is the greatest mass of any living organism on the planet. It is the vegetative part of mushrooms and a life form that can cannibalise other cultures or materials, create hybrids, and make new nets and constellations. Its potential as the material of the future has been researched and promoted by mycologists and ecologists alike, suggesting its use for sustainable and biodegradable materials or post-disaster spill toxin remediation, for examples. The Zooetics Pavilion, taking on the concept of Ballard’s living and responsive “psychotropic house”, tests the idea that objects, buildings and forms, rather than only being produced, can also be grown. This experiment aimed to push the common understanding about materiality towards a rhizomatic concept using mycelium.

During the Mycomorph Laboratory workshops in Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, artists, scientists, students, and school children were invited to carry on further experimentations with mycomorphs in a temporary lab infrastructure in the exhibition space. The participants explored hands-on the characteristics of mycelium and its ability “to collaborate” with other materials, such as wood, straw, sugar and flour among others; as well as searching for a form that would be able to grow continuously. After preparing and leaving their own mycomorphs for further growth in the lab, attendees often continued their experiments in their own studios and homes or in the forest. 

The iteration of Zooetics Pavilion in “A Million Lines” exhibition in Krakow incorporated a sound element with the mycomorphs. The sounds, sourced from various life forms: maggots, crickets, stick-insects, seals and pelicans, were looped and mixed by sound artist Antanas Dombrovskij after the interspecies writing workshop Zoo Stories at the Lithuanian Zoo in Kaunas in October 2015. The mycelium mycomorphs here took on a function as amplifiers for another case of interspecies communication. 

Zooetics Pavilion was conceived in partnership with Baltic Champs, Lithuania-based edible mushroom production company. The Mycomorph Laboratory architecture was realized in collaboration with Paulius Vaitiekūnas, Andrius Pukis, Jautra Bernotaitė, Mykolas Svirskis; visualization - Sayjel Patel; mycelium growing technology - Paulius Pilipavičius, project communication - Dionizas Bajarūnas. The educational program was organized in collaboration with CAC educator Audrius Pocius and KTU students group led by Inga Siderevičiūtė. The project was also supported by contributions from Marijus Bakas, Dalius Keršys, Gediminas Stoškus, Skirmantas Zygmantas, and KTU volunteer students. 

Zooetics is conceived by artists Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, with writer Tracey Warr, and curator and writer Viktorija Šiaulytė.

- Tracey Warr