There are many kinds of maps to help find our way in this world. Political, road, and topographic maps may be familiar, but in Chilean artist Rodrigo Arteaga’s hands, maps are made by and of cultivated fungi. Meticulously grown and preserved, Arteaga’s maps are simultaneously science lesson and aesthetic object.
“Convergence” is a mapamundi (map of the world); an installation composed of filamentary fungi in glass containers. The propagation these fungi propagated represented the surface of the earth. The other components of the work were elements that evidence the research process: photocopies of mycology books, pencil drawings that imitate the growth of fungi, sketches, photographs, and Petri dishes with laboratory tests.
A second project, “Atlas de Chile Regionalizado,” consists of 15 glass containers in which different types of filamentary fungi represent each one of the 15 regions of Chile. The living organic matter of the fungi is delimited and cut in the shape of each region, then preserved under resin.
These interdisciplinary works involve people from interdisciplinary areas of thought. Their beauty is in the relationship between art and science; order and chaos.
The Australian-based photographer Steve Axford captures some mind-boggling fungi, including tropical mushrooms that had likely not been caught on film prior to these images. Compelled to adventure into obscure places left unexplored by most men, the artist documents strange organisms, many of which are found in his native area, the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. A number of species exhibited in his body of work exist in more temperate zones, like Tasmania and the state of Victoria.
Axford, a retired computer system designer and manager, hopes to marry science and art. His photographs, in addition to being beautiful, are useful in the identification and cataloging of species previously undocumented. Prior to Axford’s efforts, the hairy mycena, a snowy white mushroom with a fuzzy cap and a translucent stem had not been spotted or archived in Australia. The same holds true for the blue leratiomyces, a plant native to New Caledonia and Lord Howe Island.
Seen here in striking detail are the most uncanny of fungi species, each enchanting in its own magical way. Some are bioluminescent, glowing an electric green in the night air; others are impossibly delicate, sprouting elegantly from moistened tree trucks. Unexpected colors spill into nature’s canvas with the growth of purple, blue, pink, and bright red mushrooms. The artist explains that photography has gifted him with the opportunity to slow down and absorb the earthly wonders that surround him; in shooting these strange, spindly lifeforms, he gives us the opportunity to do the same. Take a look. (via Colossal)