Ideas (9/10/19)

I believe cooking to be an extension of my creative process and have wondered if there’s an intersection to be made in terms of digital/bio fabrication. I’ve been drawn to fully automated hydroponics systems and have wondered what it would take to make one intended to facilitate the growth of mushrooms over the course of several years. In this case, I would imagine the system to be solar powered and low-energy in terms of operation and consumption. Im interested in growing the more-sought after mushrooms such as morels or truffles as they have become integral to my cooking.

Variation of the Miller/Urey Experiment

I’ve also tossed around the idea of creating a primordial soup machine that is sustained by renewable energy. I came across the work of Julia Child who repeated the experiments of Stanley Miller and Harold Urey in a more digestible format. The theory as it was developed in the 1920s and tested in the 1950s states that the basic building blocks of life came from simple molecules present in our atmosphere. On primitive Earth, carbon, hydrogen, water vapour, and ammonia reacted to form the first organic compounds. These chemicals were excited by energies such as lightning. Rain from the atmosphere formed organic soups (ponds, lakes). The first organisms would have to be simple heterotrophs in order to survive by consuming other organisms for energy before means of photosynthesis. They would become autotrophs by mutation. Darwin additionally spoke of a “warm pond” as the stage for this spontaneous generation, though its merit as a philosophical concept has existed for quite some time. Aristotle writes in his On the History of Animals that:

…with animals, some spring from parent animals according to their kind, whilst others grow spontaneously and not from kindred stock; and of these instances of spontaneous generation some come from putrefying earth or vegetable matter, as is the case with a number of insects, while others are spontaneously generated in the inside of animals out of the secretions of their several organs.

— Aristotle, On the History of Animals, Book V, Part 1

The philosophical implications of the work is in some ways equivalent to the work itself. The ability to create and sustain systems of primordial ‘life’ has bold scientific and ethical dimensions (though we understand the formation of what we describe as life from organic molecules to take millions and millions of years). The theory has since been updated to describe the primordial stage as the events that occur around and inside hydrothermal vents. 

Origins of life from porous hydrothermal vents

Austin Houldsworth Two Million & 1AD, Photo: Thierry Bal, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake

Austin Houldsworth’s 4m-tall Two Million & 1AD, an experimental ‘fossilisation machine’, referenced the discoveries of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the burgeoning interest in acquiring, cataloguing and increasing the general knowledge base. The attempt to create a fossil using rudimentary, human-designed machines in place of truly natural processes was a folly of sorts, but one with a sting in its tail: Houldsworth’s project started with the attempt to petrify both a Tatton-grown pineapple and pheasant, but will only ‘naturally’ conclude when the artist is able to fossilise a human – there are no known petrified remains of Homo sapiens sapiens in the current fossil record. Shouldn’t there be?

Biodegradable underwater 3d printer

Waterproof 3d printer

Swamp based waterproof printer

Printing the mycelium networks of morels/truffles

High expense mushrooms

Forms of fossilization