ORGANISM 4 / FUNGI – The Humongous Fungus

Research project with website, drawings, installation | mixed media | 2009

>> project website: organism4.en-bloc.de

 

 

Motion of the Organism – animation with historic satellite footage

The largest living organism ever to have been found is in the US state of Oregon. It measures roughly 8 square kilometres and weighs around 600 tons. However, these figures are only estimated, as the actual body grows in the forest soil as mycelia and rhizomorphs that cannot be measured exactly. It is estimated to be at least 2,200 years old, but could also be much older, as the cells are constantly regenerating. Could this member of the honey fungus family (armillaria) be a virtually immortal organism?

 

ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA

In the summer of 2009 I travelled to Oregon to encounter this ancient creature, see its habitat and find ways of visualising it. I divided the area in which it is located into 43 control points, and using GPS I set out for these points and looked for the fungus.

In the 1990s trees in the forest near Prairie City in Oregon were found to be dying on a massive scale. Soon afterwards Greg Whipple, a US Forest Service employee, realized that the reason was a very aggressive form of the fungus armillaria. The genetic analysis of soil samples from various parts of the forest showed that all the samples had the same DNA – the problem was caused by a single, enormous organism!

 

Project Dokumentation

I collected and drew samples of the organism that I dug up out of the soil or from dead trees and assembled these samples into a form – the “body”. However, since the entire forest is influenced by this enormous living being, I sought further levels of visualisation. In the middle of the visualisation the “skin” is located, which is depicted by way of the composition of the forest floor. At the very top sits the “texture”, derived from the topographic contours.

 

ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, Breakpoint F3
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, Breakpoint F3
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, Craig Schmidt
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, Craig Schmidt
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, findings
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, findings
 ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, soil samples
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, soil samples
 ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, Breakpoint E5
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, Breakpoint E5
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, findings
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA, findings
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA
ORGANISM 4 / Fungi, Research in Oregon, USA

 

See project website: organism4.en-bloc.de